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The pandemic has revolutionized myriads of changes in the way businesses across the globe view work structures in general, and how they hire freelancers in particular. Hybrid working has offered companies a degree of flexibility not anticipated until now, and firms adapting to this new development are ahead of the curve in terms of maximizing resources and value
A major aspect of this is the role freelancers play within the gig economy, with their involvement expanding to hitherto esoteric domains, such as academia and science. Subject matter experts, whether regular website writers or specialized medical writers, are being increasingly sought after for short term projects. This also offers companies the flexibility to bring niche talent, such as on-demand regulatory writers or data scientists, on board for specialized work.
Another advantage remote and hybrid working has ushered in is the breaking down of geographical barriers in hiring. Companies can now go out and hire freelancers from a global pool of industry experts, on platforms such as Upwork, Kolabtree and Fiverr. These platforms cater to various demands, and take great care to maintain client data confidentiality, freelancer integrity and general convenience of working.
With the freelancer ecosystem looking like it’s here to stay, let’s look at some relevant tips that can help you ensure you hire freelancers that are perfect for your requirements.
Determining criteria when you hire freelancers
The objective of the project to be posted should be clear-cut. Requirements for a project can be formulated through a brainstorming session with your team. Further, a meeting with senior managers will also be vital as they would be able to outline the overall firm’s expectations of the outcome of the project. Post laying out the objectives of the project, breaking it down into tasks is essential.
For example, say, your firm decides to provide services of experts from the medical and life sciences field and wants to reach out to businesses in need of the same. If your firm has decided to fulfill the project by publishing blogs and articles on various platforms to attract potential clients. A further breakdown of these objectives would be to define the kind of blogs in terms of topics, quality, word count, etc., that needs to be published and the platforms where it needs to be published for the target audience to consume them. This method will help hire freelancers such as medical writers who will be able bring in their expert knowledge and required experience.
When your company has clarity on the specifics of the projects, it can quickly hire freelancers needed to fulfil the demands of the projects. The skills desired in freelancers can only be determined with certainty when the objectives of projects are well defined.
The next crucial step is to set timelines for the project completion. Since you have formulated the objectives and broken them down into tasks, it is easier to allocate the time required to fulfill each task and hence, the time taken for the overall project itself. Say, for example, each task will take 2 two days, and there are four tasks, then it would, in total, take eight days to finish the project. This technique will help in having a realistic view of the completion of the project. But you can also have a reverse approach here. Say your project has tight deadlines and needs to be completed in 6 days. In this case, the number of days allocated to each of the four tasks has to be distributed to achieve that timeline.
Prioritizing and weighing the complexity of tasks might help in this activity. Additionally, the time taken for freelancers to complete the task would vary as they would have projects parallelly running from many other firms. A quick study of freelancers from various platforms like Kolabtree, Upwork, Fiver, etc., to understand the time required by them relevant to your project will help here. Depending on the intensity of the project, time needs to be allocated in order for the overall timeline to be defined without compromising on the overall vision of your firm.
The final determinant of the project is an all-encompassing entity that runs this world- funds. Budget allocation for a project can be approached in many ways. Thorough market research can help you to determine what a project would cost you. Post discussion with your finance team, a realistic budget can be allocated for the project. Another approach is to set aside a part of the fund fixed for your team/ department. Charting out all the activities for the quarter/half year/year will give you an idea of the financial framework you need to follow. Therefore, accordingly, you will be able to assign a budget to the project which is conducive to your department’s goals.
Once the internal check for budget allocation is done, an external check also needs to be performed. Continuing with the aforesaid example, depending on the number of years of experience and various fields they have the expertise, the medical writers charge different fees.
Proper compensation, along with clarity on objective and timeline, will play a pivotal role in attracting the right kind of medical writers to achieve the desired quality in the blogs and articles.
Posting the project before you hire freelancers
Once the project is well defined, the next step is to post the project on relevant platforms. With the example mentioned earlier, assuming your project demands medical writers’ expertise, it would be prudent to post the project on platforms like Kolabtree and Upwork, which have a high density of such freelancers. This tactic will ensure that you attract relevant, highly suited candidates for the project. A clear, concise, and catchy title will go a long way to attract more proposals from freelancers.
The title should be such that it summarizes the needs of the project, incentivizing competent candidates to read its further details. A good project title for the example we are using here would be – “Medical writers needed for a well-researched blog on ‘Insert topic.” This way, your communication to the world of freelancers is clear, in terms of what profile of expert the job is meant for.
Next is to post the project’s details in an exhaustive and comprehensive manner. List out the objectives, criteria, skill set, timeline, and, if needed, compensation details of the project. Given that your project requirements are highly technical, it’s vital to ensure that the project description is free of jargon and is written in easily digestible language for a reader. It is crucial for non-suitable and non-technical freelancers also to be able to comprehend the details of the project, as they might know a freelance medical writer who would be perfect for the job.
It is also important to free the description of any redundancy as it would dilute the requirements of the project. This can also result in a relevant freelancer losing interest in finding out more about the project. Therefore, in order to hire freelancers fit for the job, it is important to post the project on suitable platforms with well-articulated descriptions.
After the project is posted, you will receive a lot of proposals and offers from freelancers asking to collaborate. Some of them might also ask for more details. You must have a stringent screening checklist to discard unsolicited and irrelevant offers. Since your objective, timelines, and budget is well determined at this stage, a quick glance at their offer and charges would help you decide whether to reject or shortlist.
If you are in two minds about an offer, cordially formulate a message asking for more details from the freelancer. This is particularly essential when you are hire freelancers such as technical writers and freelance medical writers, in order to understand the experience and fields of expertise they bring to the table. It will also help you to get an idea if a medical writer matches your requirements and if they can deliver the project to the expected standard.
Apart from scanning proposals received, you can send the request to collaborate as well. Scout for relevant profiles and scan their portfolios in order to decide if you want to initiate a conversation with them. Send them a warm greeting and the project posting to see if they are interested. If the initial interactions over messages go well, you can schedule a meeting via phone call or zoom call to further validate the freelancer.
Finally, whether the freelancer has approached you or you have approached them, reading reviews in either of the cases is very important. Feedback from the clients they have served will help you make the initial decision, i.e., if you want to take your business further with the freelancer. You can also reach out to some of the reviewers personally in order to ascertain the authenticity of the review and to assess the standard of the freelancer. It is also essential to check for any past complaints of the freelancers while reading their reviews. If a freelancer was flagged for plagiarism, lack of professionalism, delay in delivery, and other such cautionary indicators, then they are not the right fit for you.
Studying their previous work and skill sets
You will have a shortlist of candidates after the initial scanning and vetting process is completed. Keep a scorecard to keep track of all shortlisted candidates. As you study their work deeper, you can assign scores for making a hiring decision. Reading their previous work is an absolute must in order to score them. Some freelancers do post their work on a freelance platform, while some don’t. In the latter’s case, you can request them to send some of their previous work. Before you hire freelancers such as medical writers, it is important to note the niche fields they have catered to. It could be pharmacy, biotech, MedTech, neuroscience, or any other related life sciences field.
Therefore, it becomes critical to hire freelancers in the area of your need. At times, the combination of fields required and level of proficiency needed may vary. For example, you may need a medical writer with knowledge in Medtech and artificial intelligence. They might need to have expertise in the former and only intermediate proficiency in the latter to fulfil the objective of your project. Hence, asking to share only relevant work is essential. You can draw a conclusion on the skills and expertise of a freelancer aligning with your project requirements after reading at least 4-5 instances of their work.
Assign a score basis the desired level of proficiency you require. Next, check for word choice, tone, and structure used by the writers in their work, as it helps to assess if that is the style you want for your brand and firm. Scoring them on the basis of the language they use can be another attribute of your filtration process.
Further, checking their work for plagiarism is also crucial as it can affect your company’s brand and reputation. Association with such illicit practices can shut down the project even before it starts. Determining the authenticity of their work can be an arduous task. Run their work via plagiarism checkers like Turnitin, and do a quick search engine check via Google, DuckDuckGo, Safari, etc., to see any duplicates.
A comprehensive study of their work for relevancy and authenticity and scoring them on the same can ensure that your project attracts the desired freelancers fit to carry your firm’s brand and value. With the final scorecard, you can narrow down your preferred candidate choice.
Post initial filtration and studying their portfolio thoroughly, give it a finishing touch by holding a trial run for the candidates. Sending out a short assignment for a select few after the scorecard process will help make your mind up. This short assignment should be reflective of the skills and objectives laid out for the project. If you want a freelancer to bring specific qualities to the table, then you can add these to your assignment.
Say you want a detail-oriented and thorough freelance hire for the job, then add font size and spacing requirements to your assignment. Or, say you want someone who meets deadlines, then you can hand out an assignment with stringent deadlines in order to check their diligence.
Once you have determined if a freelancer is a right fit for your project, you have to determine if they are the right fit for your firm. Since freelancers have to be in constant touch with members of your team or firm in order to understand the nitty gritties of the project at hand, it is essential to select a candidate who gets along with them.
A brief meeting or interview of the freelancer with your team will break the ice and establish if the two entities can work together. This will also ensure that the freelancer feels comfortable approaching the team and vice versa, helping them streamline the work of the project and its outcome. Additionally, it will manage expectations for freelancers in terms of standards to be maintained with the project and delivery time to be adhered to.
Conducting a trial run and interview will not only attract the right freelancer for your project but for your firm as well.
A conducive contract before you hire freelancers
A contract having uncordial terms will drive good freelancers away, which affects the quality of the project and the reputation of the firm. Contracts exercising excessive control can put constraints on creative freedom and discourage freelance writers from working for you. Hence, the contract for freelancers cannot be the same as that used for full-time hires or vendors. Freelancers are consultants, and the contract should reflect the willingness of the firm to treat them as partners.
The contract should include a description of the project, including the number of changes and revisions allowed in order for the scope to be well defined. This is especially needed for medical writers to assess the extent of deep research required for tailoring the work to the firm’s needs.
Clause to establish ownership of the work is another vital ingredient. Discussion with the freelancer along with a lawyer before including the ownership rights over work in the contract is the best practice. As copyright law is complex, unnecessary conflict and changes will be avoided with this method.
Further, having reasonable ground for terms of termination should form part of the contract. The contract must convey that throughout the agreement, both parties have the power to terminate the relationship due to things not working out, citing poor communication, missed deadlines, or any other reason. This way, leverage doesn’t tilt either side and gives both parties equal benefit.
Inclusion of non-disclosure, non-compete, and confidentiality clauses is also vital. Freelancers are privy to sensitive information and the inside workings of your firm. They also work with different firms on various projects simultaneously. Thus, this section will play a crucial role in protecting your firm’s competitive advantage and reputation.
Next, an indemnification clause needs to be established. There should be a balance of responsibility among both parties for any glitches or unfortunate incidents. A mutual indemnification, i.e., where both parties agree to cover the other party for losses caused by them due to a breach of the contract, makes a contract very attractive to freelancers.
Finally, the term of payments should be discussed with a freelancer and included in the contract. Payment can be made in parts, in bulk, or in advance. Both parties should be on the same page regarding the payment terms for the smooth execution of the project. Experts such as medical writers would charge a higher fee for research and their expertise, and these factors should be taken into account in order to avoid any legal ramifications.
In order to avoid lengthy and unnecessary legal battles and for the smooth execution of your firm’s project, an air-tight yet amicable contract is essential to attract qualified freelancers.
Whatever strategy you might adopt to attract freelancers for your project, every step of the way, clear communication is most valuable. From describing the needs of your project over various platforms to personally talking to the freelancer over texts and interviews, clear communication not only aids a freelancer in understanding what is expected of them but also in feeling a level of comfort in working with your firm.
It enables freelancers to approach you for any clarifications on requirements and to decide whether to take it up or not. Good communication can also help to elicit the correct responses from potential candidates during initial screening in order to filter out the futile ones.
Finally, communicating the details of the contract is extremely significant as its terms and conditions should not catch the freelancer off guard. Specific complex clauses can be included in the contract only after having a discussion with the freelancer, along with a lawyer if needed. Such clarity in communication will empower the firm and the freelancer to decide if they are well suited for each other.