Engaging Independent Contractors: 10 Do’s and Don’ts to Guarantee Project Success

By MBO Partners | March 24, 2022

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If you’re looking to engage a top independent contractor for your next project, there are a few tips and best practices to keep in mind. Follow these simple steps to ensure project success!

DO THIS DON’T DO THIS

Develop job descriptions tailored to the independent contractor audience

  • Market the project scope in addition to the desired skills.
  • Be clear on the bill rate range; or to learn about market rates post your project as negotiable and expect to pay market after reviewing multiple applications.
  • Make it clear what skills are required vs. nice to have. This helps talent identify if they are a good fit, and helps recruiters send you exactly what you are looking for.

Don’t repurpose a full time job posting for contractors without changing key details

  • Simply repurposing existing job postings does everyone a disservice and won’t accurately describe the project you are hoping to staff.
  • Advertise with a title that will attract the right candidates, like “Technical Project Manager” or “Sr. Front End Developer” instead of titles that may only resonate with an internal audience.

Evaluate resumes like you’re evaluating a potential vendor

  • Contractors often present their resume by core skills or outlining specific projects completed. Learn to evaluate what a candidate has done or can do, instead of being concerned about the number of years worked for specific companies.
  • Seek out work samples, portfolios, and references, rather than simply relying on the the resume.
  • Remember contractors are engaged for a project, not a lifetime. In some cases, it may make sense to focus on the work they can produce instead of looking for the perfect behavioral match with all members of the team.

Don’t become overly focused on candidate resumes. Consider their experience, not prior job titles or seniority

  • Don’t assume that candidates with many years of experience or senior titles in their background won’t be willing to do your project work. Many independent consultants are small businesses eager to work with clients at various levels. Don’t count them out based on titles or worry they are overqualified. If the rate fits, don’t be concerned they won’t do the work. Many have gone back into contracting as they prefer hands-on work!

Keep the momentum going

In today’s competitive job market, candidates expect project offers within days, not weeks or months.

Ideally:

  • Review submittals and give feedback within 3 days of submittal
  • Schedule interviews for those selected within 5 days of submittal
  • Schedule 2nd interviews within a week of the 1st
  • Make a hiring decision within 5 days of final interview

Don’t post projects if you’re not sure what’s happening

  • While it can be tempting to “hedge your bets” when seeking a contractor, it can hurt both the hiring manager and the company brand in the long term.
  • Be clear on bill rate (or rate range), job requirements, and expected outcomes before posting and interviewing to ensure optimal satisfaction for both client and contractor.

Keep lines of communication open

  • After you’ve extended an offer, keep contractors engaged at every step of the way. This includes communication about what to expect during onboarding (managed by MBO Partners) as well as direct communication with your contractor before and during the project.
  • Did you know that most contractors will start looking for projects 60 days before they wish to start?
  • Tansparency around project start and end dates can help ensure that your contractor remains available for as long as you need them, and that they understand their importance and role not just to the project as a whole, but to key team members with whom they may interact.

Don’t forget onboarding and orientation

  • Don’t forget that your contractors, much like FTEs, need some guidance about how to best find key materials, contacts, and how to follow processes and procedures. This may mean regular check-ins, a best practices document for how contractors can find necessary materials, or even an FTE “buddy” for new contractors so they can best determine how to do their job.
  • Remember, skipping these steps not only frustrates a contractor, but can cost the company time and money too.

Re-Engage known talent

    Talent are eager to re-engage with contractor-friendly organizations, and it’s often faster and more cost efficient to do so. Many have completed core onboarding tasks, ensuring they can get to work faster, and they may also take less time to ramp up, as they already understand internal culture, policies, and procedures.

Don’t let top contractors slip away

    Every good project comes to an end eventually. Once you’ve engaged talent successfully, reach out to your program manager to talk about adding these workers to an internal “talent pool” so that colleagues can easily re-engage for future needs.

If you have questions about how to source, engage, or manage your work with an independent contractor, please complete the form below.

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