The first thing to consider with any potential employee is whether or not the candidate possesses the necessary skills. For online freelancers who cannot be trained on the job, proper skills are even more critical. You probably wouldn’t want to hire a writer who doesn’t score well on a grammar test or a graphic designer who isn’t familiar with Adobe Photoshop. Those are fairly obvious, but don’t forget about other skills such as communication and reliability. The best provider will have the necessary knowledge and experience as well as the ability to be a good employee.

Skills Specific to the Job

Before you post a job online, have a good idea of what skills your provider must possess in order to complete the job to your satisfaction. These could include technical skills with specific software or computer environments, math skills for accounting or payroll, writing skills for blogs, advertising materials, or catalogs, along with many others.

Take into consideration what the end deliverable will be and how you will need to use it. For example, if a writer provides copy to you in Microsoft Word, but you don’t have that program, you won’t be able to use their file. Similarly, if your programmer provides you with software that is written for Windows, you’ll be stuck if you happen to work on a Mac. 

Even a top-notch provider won’t be worth your time and money if they are unable to give you a deliverable that you can actually use. So make your skills requirements as specific as possible and avoid conflicts late in the game.

Availability of Skills

If you’re in the market for providers with highly specialized skills, you may find it helpful to spend some time researching similar online projects. Simply posting your job and waiting for bids could leave you high and dry if the provider pool is shallow. Look for similar projects and make note of who applied for – or better still, won – the projects and how much the providers charged. This will help you ensure that you are offering a competitive wage, and you can send invitations to interview to the providers you find. Take an active role in finding your specialized provider, and your experience will be much more rewarding.

Background and Credentials

Always check on a provider’s credentials. This includes work history, education, and references. The information may be available through their profile on the freelance website. Also look for any tests they may have taken and what they scored. Tests are a good indicator of skills, but keep in mind that providers choose their own tests, and they’re not likely to choose ones they aren’t good at. So also check the diversity of tests they’ve taken. Another great indicator is the provider’s body of work. Ask for samples from each of the potential employees.

Skills not Specific to the Job

Some skills are universal, regardless of the type of project. These skills are in the areas of responsibility, communication, and professionalism. They are the skills that anyone needs to be a good employee, whether a full-time, on-site employee or an off-site freelancer. Online providers, in particular, must prove themselves to be reliable, dependable, and trustworthy. These are skills you will best be able to assess via the provider’s employer reviews. Reviews that are critical of the provider’s ability to be a good employee are very important, and you may want to avoid those providers.

Anne is seeking a professional who can cover her payroll and accounting needs. She does not want to incur additional costs, so the right person must be able to work in the  software and formats that she is already using. She makes a list of all the skills she thinks are necessary to do the job to her standards. When she posts her project online, she is very specific about her skills requirements. Before initiating interviews, Anne checks each applicant’s employer reviews and weeds out anyone who has received low marks  for job performance and professionalism. Now she can move forward with confidence, knowing that she will be interviewing the best possible providers for her.

Some skills are universal, regardless of the type of project. These skills are in the areas of responsibility, communication, and professionalism. They are the skills that anyone needs to be a good employee, whether a full-time, on-site employee or an off-site freelancer. Online providers, in particular, must prove themselves to be reliable, dependable, and trustworthy. These are skills you will best be able to assess via the provider’s employer reviews. Reviews that are critical of the provider’s ability to be a good employee are very important, and you may want to avoid those providers.

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