Putting your hand up: Self-Selection

The problem many small business owners face when they want to hire a freelancer is not quantity of applicants but quality. There just seems to be a shortage of half-Vulcans with superhuman powers out there!

In all seriousness, with the advent of freelancing sites like eLance, oDesk and others, there are large teams of people now who will apply for everything in a “blitzkrieg” approach to job applications! So, normally there is no shortage of applications for job posts. But the question is whether these posts are written by individuals who are qualified for and interested in the job described.

How do we sort out the best applicants from the rest? Well one method we can use is the Self Selection method, which can be a great time saver if you are finding it too time-consuming to sift through a pile of applications for every job posting.

The concept behind Self Selection is very simple. Included in the job posting, where you describe and contextualize the project and the expected outcomes, are a few questions at the end that you request answering in the responses. These questions might be as innocuous as “What’s your favourite movie?” or they may be a bit more searching such as a question related to the specific job and whether you have missed any factors in the job description.

The first thing you can do when you get the applications is sort through and eliminate any that don’t answer your questions because it shows that either they are automated responses where someone is using a copy and paste method and haven’t even read the job description, or the freelancer hasn’t read it thoroughly enough and cannot follow written instructions or hasn’t taken the application seriously enough.

How can someone be expected to satisfy actual job briefing, if they haven’t even followed a job application properly? These applicants therefore select themselves OUT of the next stage of the hiring process.

You will be able to tell from the responses to your questions a little about the personalities, experience, communication skills and writing skills of the freelancers. Who answered the questions best? How much effort did they put into the application? Did any of them offer you anything extra in terms of ideas or suggestions? All of this will tell you how serious the applicant is about the job and it can help you narrow the field down.

If you can narrow it down to 3 contractors you can then provide a trial task for them – maybe an article or a podcast – a small part of the real job that you want them to do. Give them all the same task and choose the best candidate from that trial. This is called the 3 Lancer method and it is another way to make the A players stand out and make your selection for the job easier. This is covered in more depth in another blog post.

In fact you can get plenty more advice about methods of how to hire a freelancer that suits your business in The Outsource Profit Machine workshop DVD, along with all the outsourcing tips and guidelines you could ever need to get your online business going in the right direction, right from the start. Just click here to learn more about it.

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