Staff Alternatives: Contractors, Freelancers, and Interns
There are many online listings where you can post positions for freelancers or contractors. There are an equal number of freelancers and contractors who have posted their qualifications on the Internet. You can also find qualified contractors and freelancers through word of mouth. It's important to get good references and check the work and background of such independent workers, since you don't have a personnel office in their last company to turn to for information.
Here are some things you need to know about each freelancer or independent contractor you consider:
How soon can this person commit to the project?
Can she meet your deadline?
What are her hourly rates?
How many hours does she anticipate the job taking?
Does she work on-site or off-site?
How does this person expect to be paid?
Does she mind signing a confidentiality agreement?
Research rates for the same job to make sure their rates are in line with what you can expect to be paying. Writing, graphic arts, and most other professions in which people often do freelance work have associations, unions, or websites where you can find compensation information.
Once you've established the boundaries and guidelines for the job and how your company works, write up a basic contract agreement. Don't get too elaborate with your contract or you may box yourself into a corner. Include outs for both parties. From the contractor or freelancer, you want sufficient notice if he can't finish the project, and make sure it's clear that he will only be paid for the work he's done. If, however, you need to end the project at a certain time or cancel, you should also give notice and pay the person for the work they've done to that point.
While contractors and freelancers are not employees and do not get the benefits of staff, you should still treat them in a proper, professional manner. Contractors and others who are self-employed do a lot of networking, and inappropriate practices can give you a bad reputation, which will make it harder to find good people.
Internship programs through local high schools or colleges are great places to find energetic young talent willing to learn in exchange for course credits. They can often be your future full-time employees in training. It is a great way to try out a young person who may be a rising star in a few years.