10 Tips for Finding, Keeping, and Managing the BEST Contractors

Does it ever seem that finding great contractors or employees is one of the hardest things that you need to do in your business? I help many of the clients at Hubstaff with this on a daily basis, so if the above statement sounds familiar, you’re not alone.

It can be tough to find good contractors. It requires trust, friendship, and accountability, and as we all know, these things don’t happen overnight. There’s a lot of investment…

I cover this topic in-depth in “The Definitive Guide to Building a Remote Team”. It’s free, and I encourage you to have a look if you need some in-depth training on the topic.

Below you’ll find 10 quick tips to get you in the right mindset for finding and retaining the best contractors.

  1. When looking for developers, look for those that contribute to open source communities. This shows first and foremost that they are really good developers (good enough for other developers to respect). Secondly, it shows a willingness to give to others. And finally, it shows that development is truly their passion. They aren’t in it 100% for the money… you want someone that LOVES what they do. You want someone that LIVES it. Find someone that contributes to the open source community and you are well on your way.

  2. Get referrals. This is at the top of the list for a reason. If you need a good contractor, PR firm, linkbuilder, designer, etc.. the best thing that you can do is ask others in the industry. You don’t have to know people personally. You can ask people on twitter, facebook, forums, or you can even ask us in the comments below.

  3. Find people on specialty sites related to the job function you are hiring for. This means that if you are hiring an infographic artist, find someone with a good reputation on visual.ly. If you are looking for a developer, find them on StackOverflow. If you need someone for SEO, find someone on WebmasterWorld, seochat.com, or moz. Many of the best contractors do NOT have an active profile on Upwork (formerly oDesk), and in fact, many of the best would never use those services. They don’t need to…

  4. Get personal. Ask the contractor about their family and about their life outside of work. Get to know them as people. When you care for a person that you work with, it will create loyalty and honesty.

  5. Don’t let someone learn on your dime. Ok, let’s be honest here for a minute… Have you ever had expectations of creating a site that could be showcased on dribbble with a designer that is $6.00 an hour? I have… and it doesn’t work that way. You want a dribbble designer, you go to the source, and you pay for it. But in many cases, you don’t pay nearly a much as you think you would. Example… Many amateur designers and developers are learning on YOUR DIME. Do you realize know how long it takes someone to learn a skill like development or design? 5+ Years… So you’re hiring an ametuer who is still learning… and with that comes low wages, low quality, mistakes, slow turn around, multiple revisions… you get the picture. But the main point here is that if you were paying 25$ an hour, you may be able to get someone who could knock out that logo in 3 hours, vs. 20 hours. You’d have a better product, less headaches, and your logo would be done overnight.

  6. Use time tracking software with some proof or validation. The technology is available that allows you to focus on your work (time tracking, screenshots, and activity tracking) instead of constantly having to follow up and badger people. If contractors don’t want to use the software, there’s a reason why… You want the people that aren’t afraid one bit to use software like Hubstaff. The good ones, know that they can use this software to prove that they are good.

  7. Hire the best you can find. This goes along with the last point, but it’s a little different. A great employee is one that moves your company forward by themselves. This means that they can think on their own. They have their own values and experiences. They are not just pushing buttons. Think about what an organization full of A-players could do for your company. If you hire the best you can find, then you are getting someone’s experiences about what works or what doesn’t… not just a “design” or a “program” and a lot of your money is spent knowing that what you get will work on it’s first iteration.

  8. Planning is everything. If you’ve ever worked with a really good developer or a good designer, you’ll know that much of the time is spent in the “planning” phase. They are picking your brain about how you want it to work, developing spec documentation, asking about the correct colors, asking for sample sites to emulate, trying to find out the exact “offer” that you want to display. The typical entrepreneur hates this, because it’s against their inherent “just get it done” personality, but a good contractor will usually spend more time in the planning phase then they will actually getting the job done. This is not a bad thing, and the next time it happens, just try your hardest to feed the contractor this valuable information because chances are you’re going to get back a much better product.

  9. Work on your blueprinting and planning skills. It’s so much better for everyone involved to lay out exactly the way you want something to work or look before work commences. Set expectations, and clarify exactly what you’d like to see happen. The benefits of spending time in the planning phase include finding the right person for the job, thinking through every implication, and truly understanding the budget.

  10. Don’t just rely on the big outsourcing platforms like Upwork (formerly oDesk). These platforms have their place, but finding really good contractors on them is very hard to do. Why? Because they are looking for a JOB. They are not sitting at the computer thinking “How can I make someone’s product better today”. Instead they are thinking about how they have to place 25 bids, get 4 interviews and get 1 job. Clients come and go for these contractors. You can certainly find good contractors through these platforms, but just be aware, that it’s not where the best of the best hang out.

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