Even with their recent rate hikes, Upwork remains my go to resource to help me run my eCommerce businesses. I use upwork to hire contractors to do everything from graphic design and web development to bookkeeping and data entry.
As someone who’s been outsourcing for close to 10 years, I’ve learned a few things along the way and in this article I’ll show you the process I use to hire contractors on Upwork.
Write a descriptive title
Use a title that attracts the right candidate. Make sure to include keywords and be specific as to which tool/application/software you’re using.
|Task||Good Job Title||Bad Job Title|
|Fix a website bug||
|Design a Facebook banner ad||
|Write an article||
In the first example, I want to hire someone to fix a bug on my eCommerce site so my job description needs to be specific. The last thing I want is 500 applicants for this job, most of whom know nothing about WooCommerce.
Fixing a bug is a very vague subject and covers a broad spectrum. By specifying which software and where the problem is, contractors will know if they should bother applying.
Write a short but detailed job description
If you’re a contractor, getting hired is a numbers game. The more you apply, the higher the probability you’ll get hired. You can’t waste time reading a 1000 word job description. As an employer I realize this so I keep my job description short and sweet.
Every job description should have the following elements:
- 1 or 2 line summary of the task
- 1 or 2 line of the requirements
- An incentive
- A price
- A screening question
The contractor reading this job posting has a clear understanding of what I need fixed and how much I’m willing to pay to have it done. I’ve also included an incentive for additional long term work should performance merit it.
Contractors are always seeking continuity so if you can provide some sense of stability to then, they’ll go the extra mile for you.
Use a screening question
A contractors philosophy is always “Get hired THEN figure out what the client wants”. To avoid this, I use a screening question like “use the word XXXX when applying” at the bottom of the job description. This way, I’m assured the applicant actually read the job description in full. Using a screening question will eliminate 50% applicants.
Hire by demographic
Political correctness aside, here’s a list of places I like to hire (and not hire) from:
|Job||Best Candidates||Worst Candidates|
|SEO||Don’t outsource||Don’t outsource|
|Social Media Marketing/Management||Do it yourself||–|
|Fix small wordpress/website bugs||
What to look for in potential candidates
After posting a job, expect to receive applications in about 20 minutes. After 60 minutes, your talent pool will be flooded. To save time, here’s how I choose my top 3 candidates:
- Eliminate anyone who didn’t answer the screening question.
- Eliminate anyone with a feedback rating of 4.3 or lower.
- Pick 7 or 8 applicants and read their cover letter. If the cover letter is too generic, move on to the next candidate
- Read feedback comments, check qualifications and review their portfolio
- Pick the 3 candidates that standout and select them for an interview
Here’s an example of a job posting where I used “social media” as my screening question. Notice the middle applicant; they didn’t use the keyword and it appears to be a cut and paste cover letter.
While some people prefer to speak to candidates via skype, I prefer to chat with them on Google Hangouts though I could do the same on skype chat.
In the interview/chat, I’ll ask the following:
- Are you sure you can do this job?
- Have you done something like this before?
- Can you provide me with some links of your previous work?
- How many jobs are you working at the same time?
- You are ok working with my budget?
Questions 4 and 5 are the most important. I don’t want a candidate who’s working multiple jobs at the same time or else they’ll be distracted. I also want to reaffirm my budget just so there are no surprises.
Upwork makes it really easy to pay employees using an escrow system. The employer deposits the value of the contract in to a temporary account and then releases the funds as they fit.
NEVER release 100% payment to your contractor until you’re 100% certain the task is complete.
Depending on the complexity of the task and length of the contract, I pay my contractors in increments.
|Task||Payment Release Schedule|
|Complex task that’s expected to last more than 1 week||
|Simple Task (e.g. fix bug, write article, design banner)||
What to do when your contractor gets “sick”
“I’m sick”, “I’ve lost electricity”, “my dog died”. Get ready to hear every classic excuse as to why a contractor didn’t finish their work on time. When in doubt, FIRE and move on.