Hire on Upwork: A Small Business Owner’s Guide to Building the Dream Team 101

by Sarah Reyes

Starting a small brick-and-mortar or online business is never a walk in the park. You might have all the plans and infrastructure ready, but you’re missing a core ingredient to success – the right people.

Unfortunately, recruiting and hiring from traditional sources is challenging because they are a favorite hunting ground for big-name brands and deep-pocketed businesses. So, where should you hire? 

Why not hire on Upwork? This freelance marketplace is the best in the world, with a 45.94% market share. It leads Fiverr, Freelancer, Guru, and other freelancer platforms by a mile, allowing businesses to access many of the world’s best talents. You’re one step closer to building your dream team if you play your cards well and hire on Upwork. We’ll show you how.

Upwork and the Gig Economy 2022

Let’s take a briefer on the gig economy before we show you how to hire on Upwork.

Economists describe the gig economy as the labor market of freelancers, contractors, and project specialists. Employment is temporary, and jobs are flexible. Businesses hire independent contractors or freelancers for short-term projects or activities, unlike the traditional employment model of retaining workers for many years, as long as they remain productive. 

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics says that the gig economy is more than a third (36%) of the size of the traditional workforce, comprising about 57 million freelancers and contractors. It would be a mistake to think that freelancing is only for Gen Zers. 

Although they comprise more than half (53%) of the gig workforce, 40% are Millennials, 31% are Gen Xers, and 29% are Baby Boomers. Even employed professionals work part-time on contracts, consultancy work, projects, and other freelance activities.

And here’s another fact that will blow you away. Experts say the gig economy will comprise half the productive population by 2030. 

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So, where does Upwork fit into all of these?

As mentioned, Upwork is the leading freelancer marketplace. More than 12 million freelancers are available for hire on various projects, activities, and programs. 

The platform also has five million businesses and individuals looking for the best talent at their given budgets. Upwork has the most diverse talent pool among freelancer platforms, allowing companies and enterprising individuals to hire on Upwork almost anyone with the right skill.

Do you need a hand in your branding? How about translation for your globalization-localization requirements? Interestingly, even CEOs love hiring on Upwork for data science, tax preparation, business analysis, engineering, legal, design, sales, and writing projects. If you think you’re running out of options on where to find the best talent, you’ll find them on Upwork.

Why Should You Hire a Freelancer?

So, you can hire on Upwork. But the question remains. Why should you hire a freelancer or an independent contractor? Would it not be better to recruit someone who’ll stay with you as your business grows? 

Hiring a tenured employee is costly. You’ll spend on training, mandatory benefits, paid time off, health insurance, payroll taxes, and more. Companies must also allot an office space, including work resources (i.e., computers, telephones, and other items). Hiring a freelancer saves you from these overhead costs, allowing you to earmark your budget on more significant business activities.

Given the effort and money businesses put into recruiting, hiring, onboarding, training, and continually developing a tenured employee, hiring a tenured worker is a huge investment going to waste if the worker decides to leave. 

You won’t get that risk if you hire a freelancer because you can terminate the relationship if the gig worker cannot comply with specific deliverables.

Freelancers also give your company a fresh perspective. Technically, they don’t belong to your organization, making them more upfront in putting out solutions you might have never thought of before. 

They don’t have your business’s historical mindset. Freelancers offer a glimpse of “how things are done” doesn’t always equate to “how things should be.”

Hiring freelancers is perfect for short-term deadlines and 11th-hour projects. There’s no long-term commitment, and freelancers are more effortless to recruit, hire, and onboard.

How to Hire the Best Talent on Upwork

Although it is cost-effective to hire on Upwork, businesses must realize that they cannot fill every position in their organization with freelancers or temporary workers. Successful companies often use a blend of tenured employees and freelancers to improve their productivity and ensure long-term stability. With that out of the way, we propose six crucial steps for hiring the best talent on Upwork. 

1.   Get a clear idea of your workflows.

Every business organization has workflows that describe the various processes or activities that work to produce an outcome. It’s a roadmap of techniques and tactics, allowing companies to appreciate the resources necessary to complete a task. 

A well-defined workflow eliminates redundancies, accentuates business strengths, encourages collaboration, and provides better insights into your overall operation. 

Creating and polishing your workflows starts with identifying your company’s resources. It includes everything that helps you accomplish a particular task, such as employees, forms, operating procedures, and others. 

We recommend sitting down with people involved in these processes to determine issues or problems they encounter with the existing workflow. 

You must also list the tasks and activities you want to accomplish for the process and determine who is accountable and responsible for each step. It would be best to assign roles. Visualize your process by creating a workflow diagram. The clearer your workflows, the easier it is to hire on Upwork.

2.           Create and develop your “dream team.”

Use an appropriate program to let you visualize your “dream team,” considering your workflows. Be patient because this part of the process requires careful planning. Business owners must understand employees’ strengths, motivations, interpersonal communications, and interests. 

You can use personality tests if you’re clueless about your employees’ character traits. Although personality assessment tools have low predictive abilities on job performance, they can offer insights into a person’s most pronounced qualities. It enables you to custom-fit your approach to bringing out the best in everyone. 

For example, an introverted employee requires patience from the team. It would also be best to ask them instead of assuming. Respecting their boundaries and “space bubbles” will also help an introvert become more productive at work.

Visualize your “dream team” and ask yourself if you have the right people in the right positions. 

Are there “activities” or “tasks” that no team member can execute to the level of your expectation? Are there workflow steps you want to fast-track that the current team makeup cannot accomplish? Do you need “temporary” assistance while your “dream team” acclimatizes to the revised workflows?

These instances show you need to hire on Upwork or some other platform. You cannot create another position for the job because you already have an existing team. Your business only requires an “extra pair of hands” to get things going until your team is up and running. 

3.           Post on Upwork.

You’re now ready to hire on Upwork. This step shouldn’t be difficult if you’re already familiar with job postings. 

The good news about posting job vacancies on Upwork is it’s free, unlike other platforms that charge you a fee. Moreover, the response is almost instantaneous. You’ll have applications within hours if you create a catchy job post. 

Although you can concoct your recipe for effective Upwork job postings, we find the following elements crucial in attracting the best freelance and contractor talents.

A Catchy Headline 

There are no rules for creating a catchy headline for Upwork job listings, except that it should be direct and descriptive. Most clients post intriguing titles to draw attention to the post. We recommend looking at examples on Upwork to get a feel for what you must write. There is no point in copying these phrases because your company is a unique entity, and you have an imitable need.

A Succinct Summary

Keep this portion as short yet “beefy” as possible. It sets the tone for what you’re looking for on Upwork and the responsibilities you hope the successful freelancer will take on. 

For example, you might want to begin with a statement on how you’re looking to expand your “dream team” by hiring a “customer service specialist.” You can follow it up with one or two core responsibilities, such as dynamic interaction with member clients and assisting them in resolving account-related issues.

Examples of Tasks Required of Candidates if Chosen

Although the summary can give prospective job applicants an idea of what you expect from them, providing examples of tasks or activities should clarify everything. 

For example, do you want them to reset client passwords, cancel monthly membership accounts, facilitate refunds when necessary, and offer access to online resources? Look at your workflows again and determine which tasks you require “temporary” or “freelancer” help.

Description of the Ideal Candidate

Freelancers must know you want them when you hire on Upwork. How? Be specific in your candidate description. You cannot say you need a freelancer with “excellent” knowledge of computers because almost everyone nowadays fits the bill. Instead, you can look at your company’s operating systems and other programs to attract specific freelancers.

For example, do you use Zoho, Zendesk Sell, PipeDrive, Salesforce, or any of the best CRM software for small businesses? How about Asana, Basecamp, or another productivity app? The point here is to be specific so that only freelancers with verifiable competencies in these programs will apply.

Preferred Experience

Know the difference between “ideal” and “preferred.” The ideal attributes you expect from candidates are absolute. You can ignore their application if their Upwork profile or portfolio doesn’t contain the “must-have” skill. On the other hand, “preferred” skills or competencies are not crucial for getting the job. However, it increases the chances of the freelancer bagging the job offer.

Suppose you have ten shortlisted candidates, and only one of them is proficient in Sweet Process, Ontraport, ConvertKit, or Kajabi. In that case, this job candidate has the upper hand in the selection process because he has “extra” skills that might come in handy in the future. That’s how you hire on Upwork.

Personal Characteristics

Conversations with your managers, supervisors, or team leaders will give you an idea of the kind of people they want in their respective departments. 

Do you need someone organized, conscientious, and friendly? How about attention to detail and a positive mental attitude? Sadly, the issue with this job post element is its subjectivity. Almost everyone will say they have these attributes.

Time Requirement

If there’s one thing every business owner must understand about freelancers is they love flexible time. They accomplish their tasks wherever and whenever they like. They’re digital nomads, who appreciate work-life balance and will do anything to retain the freedom they desire. They might be in the Bahamas for a holiday, but they will never be remiss in their work responsibilities.

Hence, you cannot create an Upwork job post that sounds like you’re hiring a nine-to-six office worker. You won’t get that many applications, if at all. 

A better approach is to determine how many work hours you expect the freelancer to work in a week. For example, post “five to ten work hours per week.” It’s up to the freelancer to manage his time. They can work one day for five hours or five days at an hour each.

 Do you expect the freelancer to report to the office, or is this 100% remote? Think of other work requirements you need for the freelancer. The more specific your job details are, the better your chances of getting the right talent when you hire on Upwork.

4.           Make a shortlist of qualified candidates.

You don’t have to wait long before candidate proposals start pouring in. 

Upwork has an advanced algorithm that notifies its members of job openings that match their qualifications if you were extra diligent in your job posting. It’s also worth mentioning that the applications vary across pay levels and countries.

Upwork offers several techniques for filtering candidate proposals. However, most clients use two parameters in shortlisting candidates.

·        Job Success Percentage

According to Upwork, clients should look for candidates with a minimum job success rate of 90%. This metric shows the candidate’s track record, giving you confidence in hiring. After all, you don’t want to hire on Upwork without guaranteed success. A 90% (or greater) job success percentage indicates the freelancer’s ability to meet or outdo work expectations.

·        Money Earned

One feature we love about Upwork is its “money earned” display. It tells you of a freelancer’s cumulative earnings on the platform. Many people don’t realize that this information gives you an idea if the gig worker is a full-time freelancer or a part-timer. 

Does the candidate derive his income primarily on Upwork, or is this only a side job? Most clients prefer a freelancer with more Upwork earnings because it shows he will log in daily. They are also more responsive, allowing you to optimize their talents in your “dream team.”

5.           Offer a trial job.

One issue with the freelancer market is that you cannot employ conventional pre-employment assessment techniques. Although Upwork has freelancer tests guaranteeing members have sufficient skills necessary for their work, these assessment tools are not specific to your company. The best way to address this shortcoming is by giving the shortlisted candidate a trial job.

Look at your workflows again and devise a trial run of a specific task. Give them time to complete the activity and measure the output using a valid and reliable evaluation tool. It would be best to state the compensation for the trial job to motivate the candidate to perform their best. You can decide whether to move forward or look for another candidate afterward.

6.           Integrate the Upwork freelancer into your dream team.

You’re on the last leg of your hire on Upwork journey. You’ve made the decision and the freelancer accepted the offer. Now’s the time to integrate the lucky one into your “dream team.”

You cannot expect the freelancer to report to your office for orientation. Hence, you must prepare a simplified video orientation course introducing the freelancer to your company’s vision, mission, philosophy, and core values. 

You can also include the tools and resources in your business available to him, including the organizational and team structure. 

Be explicit about your communication structure, including apps for collaborating, reporting, and other work-related functions. Don’t forget to amend your project management tool by including the new team member. Managing tasks and activities for different projects are more efficient with such programs.

Final Thoughts

Creating your “dream team” is easy if you know how to hire on Upwork or any freelancer marketplace platform. Although the steps are straightforward, they require time and effort on your part as the business owner. 

One crucial point to remember is to always start with a clear picture of what you have now. You can try envisioning your business a few years from now to determine how different tasks, activities, and processes can benefit from a freelancer hiring.

Freelancers might be a small part of the modern economy, but their numbers are growing. As experts say, one in two employees will be a freelancer within the next seven to eight years.

If you’re unsure about hiring on Upwork or other freelancer websites, a third-party organization can help you sort things out. They’re your best bet in helping you create a more comprehensive recruitment program for integrating the best Upwork talents into your ”dream team.” 

HireNest for Smart Hiring in 2022 and Beyond 

Use our world-class smart testing solutions to hire the best talents that will stay and grow with your business. Book a demo today!

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