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How to hire contractors

Published: Wednesday 1st April 2015

As your business, large or small, expands there may be times when your company or team need to take on additional help to tackle that forever expanding to-do list. At times your needs can outpace your recruitment budget and you might not be able to bring on further full-time members of staff. However, hiring a contractor can plug that productivity gap by accomplishing small or short-term goals. You can break large projects down into more manageable chunks which can be worked on by contractor staff in smaller bursts. Hiring a contractor is useful to your business by saving time and money and also by connecting you with talented professionals who specialise in the field you need and are available straight away. There are talent pools, websites and forums across the world which put contractors and employers in contact with each other. As there is a high number of contractors in the marketplace, you will probably receive a large number of applications to the job you list. How do you choose the best contractor from a potentially big bunch? Following these 8 suggestions for how to hire a contractor, and what to do when you have, will guide you through the hiring process. 

Female construction worker win front on male construction workers

8 Tips To Land The Perfect Contractor

Review Portfolios

Before anything else, when you are reviewing the plethora of applicants you have, check through their portfolio. If they are not able to provide a portfolio of any sort, or a reference if a portfolio isn’t relevant to the industry you are in, then think about discounting these applicants. Even an applicant with little experience in the marketplace can still craft a portfolio of samples of their work. The portfolio is one of the best ways to see if a contractor is up to the job and can walk the walk. If they have linked to live online examples of their work, this is even better. If you feel a contractor has not given enough examples or you need to see something more relevant to your project, don’t be afraid to ask for more information. Contractors who are keen to work with you will be only too happy to send you as much information as they can and as you want.

Check References of the Contractor

Their portfolio lets you know what they can produce but doesn’t tell you what someone is like to work with. Just because you aren’t hiring a full time member of staff doesn’t mean you should forgo the usual checks you would put in place. A good contractor will be happy to put you in contact with a previous client whilst a new contractor on the market should be able to put you in touch with a previous employer. Contractors tend to develop long term relationships with clients, so you want to know you can rely on this person again and again.    

Closeup on businessman holding a card with REFERENCE CHECKS message, business concept image with soft focus background and vintage tone

Don’t Just Pick The Cheapest Contractor

You could well be tempted to pick the cheapest contractor on the market but this isn’t always the best strategy. There is a reason someone is much cheaper than everyone else, and more often than not, hiring them could lead to problems down the road. Instead choose contractors based on their body of work and experience, rather than their price point. You’ll probably still be able to negotiate and get good value for money, just don’t base your decision solely on this. 

Experience Not Necessary – But Desired 

Talking of experience, our next point. Find a contractor who has experience in your industry or has worked on similar projects and jobs. A contractor with prior experience in a similar project or industry will go a long way to ensuring your project is carried off without a hitch. Their experience may even be able to point you in directions which you had not thought of before. 

Hire A Team Player

Just because they are working remotely and not next to you in the office, doesn’t mean your contractor is not a valuable part of your team. You need them to work well with other members of your team in a productive and proactive way, developing relationships. They may well have to operate across different levels of your business, from assistant to managerial and directorship level, so need to be able to work well with people at all levels. 

Deadline Management 

You have hired them for a specific task and need it completing in a reasonable timeframe. Agree this with the contractor before the job begins. Be upfront with your expectations on deadlines and delivery before the project begins. Agree a clear, concise and organised framework for both parties to work within. 


Communication and technology concept, word cloud

At the beginning of a project set the ground rules for communicating with your contractor. Agree a mutually convenient method of communicating, either through conference calls, skype or email. Different methods will be best for different communication needs. Sometimes it might be best to email more detailed information whilst instant messaging is often better for quick chats. Agree a schedule of communication, how frequently should both parties be kept up to date on the project? You will need to agree this together so you are on the same page. 

Payment Terms

Before commencing work, negotiate the pay rate and frequency with the contractor and agree payment terms, pay method, milestones and any bonus structure. You may feel a little reticent to pay, but today many contractors will ask for an upfront payment or deposit. This is often asked by more experienced contractors and popular contracting websites, and is due to the unfortunate situation of non payment on invoices.  

Bonus Tip: Where To Find Talent

There are lots of places where you can find talent today, why not register with Zoek today to find the perfect contractor. Register here and let Zoek help you achieve faster, smarter recruitment. For more information and tips for recruiters visit our Zoek blog.


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