Software development companies are tightly connected with new ideas and forms of work. They invent new approaches to make their employees feel comfortable, happy and motivated.
I would even say that IT business gave an immense boost to the gig economy and freelancing – nowadays it’s far easier to work from home, particularly for programmers. Your tools – a laptop and the internet – are already with you at your home, so there’s no reason to waste your precious time on commuting. Remote work comes with flexible hours, the chance to control your workload and many other advantages. No wonder a shocking 35% of workers choose to become a freelancer.
Let’s face the truth – IT companies have spoiled their freelancer workers. Some now they reap the fruit of failed deadlines and fake portfolios just to name a few. They made that freelance “broth,” and they must sup it.
Having more than 10 years of experience in recruiting and interviewing developers I decided to share my knowledge and made a list of features and bugs every HR should be aware of while considering hiring a freelancer.
The first stage where you can run into a problem is during the interview, and you have to be a bit of Sherlock Holmes to detect if a candidate provides you with his/her own portfolio. Software being an abstract product is easy to lie about, and lots of developers hide their zero experience by the phrase “under NDA project.”
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If you look for a programmer on such resources as Upwork or Fiverr, you can also see ratings and feedback. Don’t focus much on them, because they are even easier to fake than a portfolio. Some freelancers provide services like writing positive feedbacks on freelance websites, which is totally insane.
After hiring goes management. Though typically it’s a Project Manager who is responsible, but if a new team member doesn’t meet the further requirements you will also get a headache. What troubles can HR have on this stage?
Freelancers are a kind of entrepreneur, caring about their own business first. Despite firm promises to complete your tasks first you can be #N in their list of projects. It’s always good to have a substitute, a reliable backup just in case.
How to control – that is the question. Be as precise as possible while defining tools, trackers and expectations during the interview. Mind that some people work worse when they are constantly controlled, while others get too relaxed without supervision. Reaching a golden balance might take longer than a project lasts.
On the other hand, oversupervision might lead you unplanned expenditures too. It’s not a contractor who will increase rates for excessive control but an auditor from Department of Labor fining you for underpayment. The more you control a freelancer, the higher the chance is is that they will be found your full-time employee.
Speaking of duration, there is also onboarding to consider. Despite the fact that freelance developers work from home they also need time to get used to your company systems and demands. Not many of them are so experienced that they can work completely independently. For a long-term project that requires additional training it’s better to hire a full-time worker. It goes without saying that there is no reason to invest in the education of a person who will leave soon.
Here we cover two issues which are most likely to stop HR managers from dealing with contractors.
Freelancers are not easy to control, so meeting deadlines can be a matter of chance. Once I had a terrible experience when a worker simply disappeared three days before submitting his task. He didn’t pick up the phone, deleted me from all social networks and, what was worse, changed all the passwords to the project materials.
And if you’re lucky enough to get the work done on time, there is no quality guarantee. You can be frustrated by what you get because of dozen of reasons – misunderstanding, freelancer’s poor work experience, undercontrol, etc.
Having experienced all the above mentioned issues now I think twice before hiring a freelancer. All things considered, if a job position you hire for demands regular monitoring you’d be better served by considering an in-house employee.