Hiring a Contractor or Employee: Part II

Written by chicceo Published in

We've asked our good friend, Mel Shaw, from Z Life Media to give us some insight into her experiences with hiring contractors and employees as she's had a some very interesting experiences with it. Here is part II of her two part blog post:

Last time you heard from me, in Part I of this segment, I touched on a few tips to prevent yourself from hiring the wrong contractors to represent your company. Now, I say contractors because, like you, we are a growing business and we delegate to trusted contractors rather than a regular W-2 employee because it makes more sense for us at the moment. But, of course, if you hiring hourly wage employees, many of the concepts I discuss in this segment may also be applied to those candidates.
As mentioned before, one of the biggest challenges I had when looking for the right contractors, was that I did not have a clear outline of what I was looking for or what I expected.
When outlining what you are looking for, consider the following traits to make your life MUCH easier through the delegation process:
Loves to Communicate. You will be able to tell what their communication style is just by the email exchanges between you. Once I learned that this was important to me, I tested my candidates before even interviewing them by emailing back and forth a couple times to see how thorough and efficient they were in their responses. If I like their style, I book an interview.
Follows Directions. You would be SO surprised at how many adults do not know how to follow directions. So, another tip I recommend to test out your candidates is to give them a bulleted list of some expectations in advance (hand in hand with the communication test). An example:
“Hi Jane!
Thank you for your interest in the Widgets position here at Widgets Inc. We look forward to learning more about you and your qualifications.

In order to process your application, please submit the following to Applications@Widgets.com:

o   Resume
o   3 References (we always want these, remember?)
Thank you!”
You will be so glad you did this because you will get many who miss one or the other or submit to the wrong address...this will weed out those candidates immediately who can’t follow directions...when working with contractors, I recommend this be a definite priority.
Friendly and Helpful Over the Phone. If your contractor may potentially be interacting with your clients, it is important that the fabulous customer service you boast to offer is being carried through by anyone in your employ. I recommend holding the first interview by phone so you can experience first-hand how they will sound to your customers.
Experience. Personally, we will not work with any contractor or hire any employee with less than three years of experience in most positions and five years if in a marketing role. Yes, these contractors may cost a little more than a college student intern or fresh out of college type candidate. The reason we do this is that we are hiring these people to take care of our customers. We promise a certain level of quality to them and it is a higher likelihood that a more experienced contractor knows how to carry out the level of service we expect. In fact, we seek out people with MORE experience than us to continuously improve the level of service we provide. The higher hourly rate will be well worth it in the long run.
Willing to Work as a Representative of YOUR Brand. I have surveyed our current clients and they have all expressed how much they appreciate the seamless feel of working with our team. Now, mind you, I personally act as Project Manager for ALL active accounts with us so they have a single point of contact in the event they need something (saving value of this for another blog) so they don’t realize how many members of our team may be involved in servicing their account but the consensus from them is that as long as we are not outsourcing altogether and we are working closely with anyone servicing their account, they are pleased. In short, keep all contractors and employees within your company family to prevent client confusion or dissatisfaction.
Some other expectations:
Dress code when interfacing with clients
Punctuality (if an hourly employee)
Meets deadlines
Integrity/Keeps their word
These were a few of the expectations I have of my employees/contractors. Yours may vary but at least you get the idea of what should be important to you in your candidate hunt. Once you have all your expectations outlined for yourself, draft a simple “Contractor/Employee Commitment” form. This form is a single-page form they are expected to sign committing to some of the things you expect of them as well as a W-9 tax form. (Don't forget to check out Tax Trap #6: Employee vs.  Independent Contractor to make sure you are protecting your business. We suggest you chat with a licensed tax professional with any questions.)
Mel Shaw is CEO and Founding Partner of ZLife Media, a San Diego based Interactive Marketing Agency serving small business and solo-preneurs in their Social Media, Email and Online Marketing. The ZLife Team aims to help businesses and entrepreneurs by creating content and engaging with fans and followers in these marketing outlets for them on their behalf to save them time. Mel specializes in Small Business Development, Marketing and Sales Strategy with over 5 years of experience as a business owner and over a decade in sales. Mel can be reached directly at 858-668-8451 or by email at Mel@ZLifeMedia.com.



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