Five tips for attracting smart external talent 

The hunger for innovation and digitalization in the business world is reaching new heights. And the government is also following suit. In that context it matters less and less whether someone works as an employee, a freelancer or as an expert with a service provider contract. As long as projects move forward, and managers get the job done. 

External talent is part of the solution. But you must be smart about how you handle them. 

With talent scarcity a painful reality for many employers, working with external experts is on the rise. Yet for many organizations, the world of freelancers and service companies remains a blind spot, or at least an underestimated asset for their projects. 

So, what should you pay attention to when looking for on-demand talent? 

5 tips for buyers looking to find (and keep) valuable external talent

Tip 1: Make your company and your job offer appropriately visible in the marketplace 

You’re going to present your project and your organization in a favorable light, but don’t overdo it, keeping it honest is the best move. Candidates and service companies are quick to spot bluff and dislike “alternative facts”. They reduce your chances and damage your corporate image in the long run. Just keep a clear and positive presence in the media of your target groups, with appropriate correct company and sector information that confirms you are an interesting employer.

Also make sure your job posts, website, social and other media present a consistent story. And don’t forget to show the human side and social commitment of your company, as they become even more important than before. 

Tip 2: Create your job offer with an open mind 

Highlight what makes your company and the job interesting, from the candidate’s perspective. External talents also want to learn, grow, feel at home in a team. 

In job posts, there definitely can be too much of a good thing.

Determine the most important requirements for the job and keep the list limited and reasonable. Limit the mandatory requirements for the job to a maximum of 5 or 6, and add just a few positive 

additional ‘nice to have’ criteria. You can conclude with two open or closed questions, to probe for concrete experience, certification, and recent projects. 

Tip 3: Pay special attention to the contract and the start-up 

As a new employer, take time to have an open discussion with the candidate to determine the content, start-up and setting of the collaboration. Both parties should keep their demands realistic, also when it comes to the daily rate. As a hiring manager, you must know what a talent is worth and compare the person to other candidates. 

In addition to clear contacts, clear contracts are important. 

Make sure to go through the contract together, without skipping the small print. Indicate the conditions that are mandatory and the ones that can be filled in together with more flexibly. 

A well-prepared start makes a major difference. Write and follow a checklist and immediately give the external expert a company email, access to shared systems and tools, and schedule time to explain them. Part of the process is also to warmly welcome the person to the team and facilitate friendly contact between the freelancer and colleagues. It’s helpful to briefly check in to see if everything is going according to plan and adjust when needed. This has an extra value: it improves your understanding of the group’s dynamics. 

Tip 4: Make external collaborators a full part of your overall project 

Treat external collaborators as full-fledged colleagues. Excluding external colleagues from business strategy and key project objectives is a thing of the past. Go for trust, and ask for their experience, interests and ambition. Listen carefully to their questions and expectations. Regularly check if they feel comfortable with the project and how they would like to even improve it.

Share your vision and company values with external employees, and they will be strongly committed to your team. 

Tip 5: Look ahead and build your relationship with your freelancer 

Consider freelancers (and service companies) as colleagues, but also as entrepreneurs. They need to follow administrative and practical agreements, but they also operate in a dynamic job market.  As an employer, you need to understand and value that combination of responsibility and freedom. If you strike that balance well, you can proactively examine possible further collaboration in new projects. Make sure to regularly update the professional’s profile, it will make it easier to call on them when new opportunities to work together arise. 

When the job is done, correctly offboard the external talent. Besides the administrative side, the IT closing is important: access, materials, passwords, mail, VPN, SaaS and other accounts, credit cards, etc. And again, as with the beginning, make the end friendly and human.  An honest exit interview is a must, preferably with positive input from colleagues and tips for the further development of the talent. Make it personal too: a heartfelt “Thank you” is priceless. And why not, a round of applause from the whole team! Afterwards, stay in touch, because – who knows – there might be a new occasion to rekindle the relationship. 

Bonus tip 6: Join the digital highway to external talent 

If you are looking for multiple profiles and external experts with experience, a hiring platform will expand your talent pool and improve the management of on-demand talent. You’ll find external resources at better prices, with more transparency and respect for the rules. Finding and hiring the external experts goes fast, from job creation to selection, from recruitment to follow-up. And the administration and reporting becomes intuitive and transparent for all parties involved, thanks to the many platform features. 

Luc Malcorps and Julien Louis work as Marcom experts at ProUnity, the fastest growing HR technology partner in the market. The company’s strength lies in the combination of a solid VMS, a marketplace with over 1,000 service companies and 10,000 freelancers, plus customized customer support. This makes finding and managing remote workers more enjoyable, efficient, and affordable. ProUnity will also participate in the Day of Supply Chain Masters on May 3. 

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