Need Help Getting More Work Done? Hire Freelancers. Here’s How.

By Hayden Brown, Vice President, Head of Product, Upwork


The talent war has never been more brutal. The number of hiring managers reporting talent shortages peaked this year at 38 percent — a seven-year high.

The pain of talent shortages, along with the constraints of traditional hiring (extended searches that cost a lot of time and money, and lead to mixed results), is driving businesses to find new alternatives; 90% of businesses are hiring contingent workers, and the independent contractor market is more than $1 trillion globally.

Businesses are learning to tap into this independent workforce online. Technology is literally opening up a world of talent, as Upwork CEO Stephane Kasriel mentioned in his Medium post. Businesses are building their workforces across geographies and timezones via the Internet and creating flexible teams that scale up and down as their needs change.

But hiring online can sometimes feel like a mystery. How exactly does it work? And how can you maximize returns on the time you sink into finding the right talent on the Internet? To show how, let’s walk through the process on Upwork’s freelance talent platform. Upwork’s technology allows you to do three things: 1) search for freelancers, 2) establish trust and collaborate with the freelancers you’ve hired and 3) send payments to them.

With The Professional Most Suited To Your Needs

There are two approaches you can take to find the best candidate for your projects. One involves you hand-picking and selectively inviting freelancers, the other serves up recommended freelancers. Here’s context on both options:

1. Search and invite. In this method, you search Upwork.com for freelancers who meet your specific criteria. Criteria can include a particular skill (freelancers can validate skills by taking one of 500+ tests on the platform), location, degree of experience and track record of success, to name a few. For example, you may search for an experienced mobile developer in a certain time zone who is experienced with Swift. From your search, you’ll get a ranked listof candidates who meet your specifications and are relevant and available. You can review these profiles and send job invitations to candidates that interest you.

Your invitations are instantly delivered via our website and mobile apps, and freelancers can also respond immediately. Imagine the power of being able to instant message right away with candidates you find within minutes — that’s what the Upwork solution offers. You can discuss the work you need done and open a dialogue about the job. Areas to consider asking about are their background, relevant projects they’ve done and their hourly rate or fixed price bid for the work.

Once you’ve decided on a candidate, send them an offer outlining the price and terms of the work, and you’ll be ready to get started as soon as they accept. One quick tip: Don’t be afraid to do small paid test projects with multiple candidates to start. That way, you can test and see who delivers the best work before you invest in larger projects.

2. Post and wait. You can also simply post a job and see who applies. Once you’ve posted, to facilitate a near-instant hiring experience, the Upwork platform may send notifications to freelancers who are both available and a good fit so that they can begin discussing the work with you on the spot. Between proactive outreach to our network on your behalf as well as search and browse activity from freelancers, you can expect to get more than five highly qualified applicants within the first 24 hours (typically your first great candidate applies less than an hour after your job post).

Whether you decide to “Search and Invite” or “Post and Wait,” Upwork’s Applicant Tracking System (ATS) will let you manage your applicants and hiring activity for each of your jobs in an organized, easy-to-use format. The ATS is a one-stop destination for sourcing candidates in addition to facilitating your workflow for reviewing, interviewing and sending offers to candidates who have applied already and those whom you may have invited or are in the process of interviewing.

With The Freelancer(s) You’ve Hired

Once you’ve found your rockstar freelancers, don’t try to coordinate with them offline. Building distributed teams requires the common underpinnings of collaboration technology for success, and Upwork offers an online workplace designed to let you collaborate with freelancers without leaving the platform. Upwork Chat (free even for non-Upwork users) enables communication and collaboration on open projects — both in 1:1 conversations and group “rooms.” It also provides helpful features such as file sharing, all of which enable transparency and effective communication.

In addition to these tools, Upwork fosters trust-building between you and your freelancers. For hourly work, a time tracking app logs the freelancer’s time while they are working for you and takes and records screenshots in a Work Diary so you can be 100 percent confident the time billed is for your project. The freelancer can annotate the screenshots to give you a better sense of the work done, and you can view the Work Diary at any time to review and audit work as it’s completed. For fixed price jobs, you identify one or more project milestones and pre-fund payment for the first milestone in our secure escrow service. That milestone becomes a deadline for the freelancer to submit their first deliverable for your review, at which point you may release the funds held in escrow.

At the end of the day, you want to know who you are working with. You can’t walk past the desk of someone who isn’t sitting in the same office; but Upwork’s technology helps you build trust with your remote team.

Finish The Jobs You Start On Upwork By Paying Freelancers

Once you’re working with your freelancers, you need an effective system via which to pay them — especially if you have people distributed around the world with different local currencies. Upwork, which charges a 10 percent fee, disburses payments to freelancers in 180 countries, making it easy to pay people around the world. For hourly work, payment is taken care of automatically via a weekly invoice and charged to your credit card or other payment method of choice. For fixed price jobs, freelancers are paid once you review the completed work and request the funds to be released from Escrow. For clients who like to dig into details, Upwork also offers a ‘budget burndown’ tracker in addition to numerous reports for analyzing timesheets, Work Diary activity and billed time by project.

Once you start hiring freelancers online, you’ll be surprised by how easy and efficient this new mode of working is. We’d love to hear your stories — please share your experiences with Upwork via Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn, and learn more about the online work revolution by following the Work: Reimagined series.


Work: Reimagined is a series of stories dedicated to exploring the evolution of the workplace.

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