Businesses: Spec Your Process Better

I’ve mentioned before how imperative it is for providers to be as detailed as possible when creating their profiles and writing effective cover letters. Buyers have the same obligation to their providers if they want to easily find the best possible candidate.

As a service provider, nothing is more frustrating than receiving a new invitation from a buyer with a job description that states:

Need new website design ASAP. Must have portfolio and 5 years experience. Please send quote.

Not only is it impossible to quote this job, but it is likely to receive a higher than normal rate from me just because my “job-description-translation services” aren’t included in my normal fees. It sometimes annoys the buyer when I send back a mile-long list of questions before providing a quote, but it annoys me even more that I have to actually ask them.
Proper job specifications yield proper candidates

99% of the time, when you’re in the market for a freelancer, you won’t be taking out an ad in a local paper with a 140-character limit…so don’t post your job descriptions like you are!

Most online job boards will give you plenty of room to include your specifications – some even let you add attachments to provide mockups and other miscellaneous files. Take advantage of these options and save yourself some leg work in the long run – the more details you provide, the more accurate your candidates can be with their quotes.

How long do you expect your project last? How soon do you need it done? Do you require familiarity with special software? What are you expectations for the end result? What do you plan to do with the final product? Do you know (or have an idea of) what you want it to look like? Does it require specific functionality?

All of these are questions a freelancer should ask you if you fail to mention them beforehand…so save yourself the trouble of going through them later – provide the answers upfront!

Ask questions

Have you ever owned a household pet, like a dog or cat? Have you noticed that if you don’t establish dominance over your pet immediately after bringing them home, you’ll soon find your home torn to shreds and faint smells of urine emanating from an undetermined point of origin for weeks on end? The same thing can happen with your freelancers if you don’t show them you know what you want and how you want it done from the very beginning (urine may or may not be included).

I’m not saying all providers will misbehave, I’m just saying that questions give you a closer look at the provider. Often, buyers wind up wasting time and money dealing with providers simply because they are communicating on different wavelengths. Try knocking this out early on by asking some great questions, and letting providers answer them before you interview them.

How long have you been doing this?
How long does it take you to do _____?
How soon do you think this can be completed?
Do you have samples of similar works?
Do you have any suggestions for improvement?

The last questions is a great one!

I’ve gotten quite a few projects with the last question even though the buyer had never asked it. If a provider can offer up suggestions for improvement, it shows that 1) they know what they’re talking about, and 2) they are taking a proactive stance on things. This is one of the best ways to find excellent providers.

Asking questions is a great way to get some information out of your applicants that’s not written on their profiles. It’s also a great way to weed out the ones who are too lazy to take the time to answer them. After all, you don’t want to hire someone who can’t even answer a simple question or five, do you?