3 Things to Look Out for When Recruiting Independent Contractors

Recruiters that are searching for skilled and reliable independent contractors are facing new challenges in the growing ‘gig economy’.  While there are more contractors and freelancers available, there is also a wide range of skills and talent levels that require due diligence for recruiters.

There are few key things to look out for when recruiting contractors, including the best way to locate new talent and how to make sure they will fit with your company and the role being filled.

1.    Where to Find Independent Contractors

The first obvious step is to find and contact the best contractors available, who as with top employee candidates, may already be in high demand.  If a contractor is frequently busy, they may not have the time to do their own marketing and so it is up to the recruiter to find them through several avenues.

Recruitment Agencies

This is a traditional method of finding contractors, but still may be of use if you want to hire someone local and prefer assistance with the vetting and selection process.  An agency will have a ready pool of pre-screened contractors, but also charge for their services.  Many of these agencies have an online presence, and could even help with recruitment of remote workers located in different regions or countries.

Freelancer Web Platforms

A rapidly expanding way to find contractors is through various freelancer web platforms, where the contractors post their professional profile, work history and skill set.  The challenge here is the need to wade through numerous profiles and select those that are the best fit.  Fortunately, most of these sites have some form ranking or rating system for contractors, as well as reviews from previous work for other clients.

LinkedIn, Twitter, Other Social Media

Social media may offer some new contacts, with LinkedIn being the number one tool for recruitment of both contractors and employees.  LinkedIn makes it easy to check references through the contractor’s own network and work history.

2.    Building a Talent Pipeline

To prevent your recruitment from being reactive as business needs arise, you can begin to build a talent pipeline of ready contractors that you know have the skills and experience required.

Existing Contractor Retention

One simple way to do this is to stay engaged with previous contractors even if they are not currently working with you, to let them know that they are on your ‘short list’ for upcoming projects.  You can include them in company updates, message boards and online events so they are always up to date on your business.

Some companies will take this one step further and offer regular, small projects to key contractors to keep them involved and a part of the business team.  Given the time and energy it takes to find new contractors, this may be a worthwhile expense.

There are a couple of other methods available to build your talent pipeline:

Freelance Site Screening Service

Freelancer and contractor job sites such as UpworkPeople Per Hour and others have add on services for recruiters from companies that use on demand workers.  For a fee, they will identify and screen the contractors available on their site, and recommend the ones that fit your current project needs.  They will also contact them on your behalf, saving you the time and energy.

Talent Communities

Some recruitment agencies with a large online presence will set up informal ‘talent communities’ where both recruiters and candidates can log in to connect, establish rapport and share project needs, skills and background in an informal setting.

3.    Reference Checks

Just as with employees, it is a sound recruiting practice to check a contractor’s references, but this step can get overlooked in the rush to get a project going.  If their work has been verified another way (such as reviews and ratings on a job site) this may not be necessary, but if the contractor will have access to sensitive or proprietary information it is a good idea to contact former clients.

Also, if you are planning to make the contractor a long-term part of your team, it is nice to have a sense of how they worked with previous clients and the type of communication and collaboration skills that they have.  A few phone calls or emails can make all the difference, and save the need to restart the recruitment process if there is some type of issue or conflict from the past.

The modern age of independent workers is a real boon to start ups and smaller companies that want to forego the cost and commitment of hiring full time employees.  Coupled with the fact that recruiters have access to a global talent pool, it is no wonder that more companies are including contractors as part of their overall HR strategy.  In some cases, a quality contractor could also work into an employee role, so it does provide an ideal method to give a candidate a paid ‘trial’ run while working on real time projects.