Soft Skills to Consider when Hiring a Freelancer

John Reeve | October 9th, 2008 | , ,

Freelancers can be a great addition to any small team that requires extra help or unique expertise to complete a project. At Pelago, we’ve hired freelance designers, developers, and writers on several occasions. Our experience working with freelancers has taught us that technical skills are not the only factor to consider when entering into a working relationship. It is a given that the freelancer be good at what they do, but it is also important that the working relationship is a healthy one. Here are a few not-so-obvious character qualities to look for when hiring a freelancer.

  • Perspective
    You may have discovered a brilliant freelance designer with an outstanding portfolio, but are they able to step outside of themselves and see the project from the perspective of other team members? We’ve worked with designers who insisted on image-intensive sites, in the name of brand preservation, only to find themselves butting heads with the SEO specialists who pushed for keyword-laden text. The project manager is stuck with the responsibility of reconciling the two contrasting views. The ability of individual team members to see their contributions in the context of the finished project isn’t just better for the client, it’s necessary for the self-preservation of the freelancer. Perspective is an important skill for freelancers who want to be hired again on future projects.
  • Adaptation
    Freelancers are ideal on some projects because of their expertise in a specific area. However, it is important for freelancers to be flexible and display a desire to learn new skills. The web site is a medium that is evolving on a daily basis. We don’t build web sites the same way we did nine years ago. We don’t even build them the same way we did last year. When hiring on a freelance web developer we’ll want to know they are able to adapt to recent methodologies. For example, can they do AJAX development, or work with Model-View-Controller Frameworks? Freelance web developers who insist on doing it their way can be difficult to manage.
  • Enthusiasm
    Web designers, developers, and writers, all play an important role in communicating to the world through a web site. As online representatives for your client, you want to work with others who feel the same way you do about a project. An enthusiastic freelancer is one who isn’t just churning out code or copy for a paycheck. You want freelancers who want to see the client succeed and who will show that in their work. Hiring a freelance writer who drums out copy as if it were a 500-word college writing assignment will only guarantee you mediocre filler. Look for freelancers with the brand of enthusiasm that can create great work and buoy the attitude of the entire team.

There are plenty of other qualities you may look for when hiring a freelancer. Above all, make sure you hire someone who works well with the client, the other team members on the project, and the project manager.

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Intervals is online time, task and project management software built by and for web designers, developers and creatives.
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John Reeve
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John Reeve

John is a co-founder, web designer and developer at Pelago. His blog posts are inspired by everyday encounters with designers, developers, creatives and small businesses in general. John is an avid reader and road cyclist.
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Jennifer Payne
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Jennifer Payne

Jennifer is the Director of Quality and Efficiency at Pelago. Her blog posts are based largely on her experience working with teams to improve harmony and productivity. Jennifer is a cat person.
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Michael Payne
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Michael Payne

Michael is a co-founder and product architect at Pelago. His contributions stem from experiences managing the development process behind web sites and web-based applications such as Intervals. Michael drives a 1990 Volkswagen Carat with a rebuilt 2.4 liter engine from GoWesty.
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