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Don’t Get Taken: How to Hire a Contractor with Real Skills

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When you hire a contractor, you need to make sure youre recruiting an asset to your team, not a liability who costs an arm and a leg. But it can be tricky if youre looking for skills outside your area of expertise. How can you be sure that your contractor is genuinely talented, and is not some guy whos applying because he needs a job?

Dont Mistake Price for Value

Cheaping out on contractors doesnt usually end wellproject managers who lowball jobs might hire a contractor that is too unskilled or inexperienced. But more expensive contractors may not be worth the money either. Overpriced contractors might do just as little for your project as the cheap oneswhile using up your budget faster.

Dont shop based on pricerather, shop by value. What experience do they bring to the table relative to yours? Are they the right kind of specialist the task needs? What is their work process, and will it make your job easier or harder? All these factors will help determine if youre getting a great deal.

Double-check Samples

So the contractor sent over samples of his work, right? Great! But dont take them at face value. Its rare, but I know project managers whove been burned by contractors with fraudulent samples. In those cases, the contractor as part of the team that created it, but did not do a significant enough portion of the work to deserve credit. In another case I encountered, a designer/contractor actually lifted his portfolio from someone elses site!

You shouldnt assume that every contractor is a fraudster, but neither should you accept things without question. Get one of your team members opinions on the sample works. He may be able to notice something you dont.

Ask for Referralsand Research Them

The best judges of a contractors performance are people whove actually used him. Ask to speak to some of his former clients-either through email or over the phone. Asking them the right questions can get you some very interesting insights that the contractor may not even be aware of.

Like always, dont take things at face value. Research the referral and his company. Is this person legit, or is it actually one of the contractors buddies? If they are, make sure that their experience is relevant to your ownthat they work in a similar industry to yours or executed a similar project. If its not, then the testimonial isnt any good at all, and youre still left in the dark about your own requirements.

Ask for his Work Process

If youre going to be managing a contractor remotely, you need to find out how he structures his workday. You need to find out the time that hes most productive, the best time to call him, and how long it takes him to do tasks. Ideally, you want someone self-disciplined, who knows his own quirks and structures his day around them so to maximize his productivity. If he flakes out on his own commitments, then hes probably going to flake out on yours.

Image Credit: Flickr, Speshul Ted

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