9 Tips for Finding, Hiring and Keeping Subcontractors

By  //  August 30, 2021

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If you operate a business that contracts out services and want it to grow, you’re going to need help. But, with changing business conditions and unknown market demand, you might not be ready to make the commitment of taking on permanent workers. Subcontractors — professionals you hire to perform parts of your work — can be a great solution.

They have the skills you need to serve your clients well without forcing employee obligations on you.

However, like bringing on employees, hiring subcontractors must be done with care and consideration. After all, these folks will be performing work that bears your name and builds your reputation. In the following sections, we offer some of the best practices for finding, hiring, and keeping subcontractors.

1. Ask Current or Past Subcontractors 

If you’re already working with subcontractors, ask them if they have colleagues who might be able to help you as well. For example, if you run a software development company, you might ask your project managers if they know of others with similar skills. They may be aware of managers with clients in common, people they went to school with, or simply others whose work they admire. 

2. Ask Colleagues

Chances are that some of your peers have hired subcontractors and may be able to recommend some of them to you. For instance, if you operate a startup accounting firm and need extra hands around tax time, ask other accounting firm owners if they know of people who can assist. Of course, you don’t want to take away their valued help, but perhaps an assistant could split their time between two firms. 

3. Use LinkedIn

LinkedIn has many tools for finding subcontract help, including ProFinder, which allows you to list projects you have available and matches you with possible providers. Alternatively, you can post the work as an available job and indicate that it’s a subcontract position. You can also simply use search filters to find people with the skills you need. 

4. Know What You Need

One of the keys to finding the right person to hire as a subcontractor is to know exactly what you need from them. If you want to find a software engineer, for instance, it’s important to know what programming languages you want them to know, what types of projects you want them to complete, and what industries you’d like them to have experience in.

Keep in mind that people without prior subcontracting experience may need training on administrative aspects of the job.

5. Conduct Thorough Interviews

Ask candidates about their prior experience, focusing on the types of skills and projects you want their help with. Make sure they’ll be compatible with your operation by asking them questions about how they work, such as how long it takes them to return voicemails and emails, the turnaround time for typical projects, and how comfortable they are with rush work.  

6. Ask for Samples

If possible, ask to see samples of each candidate’s work. Often subcontractors will have a portfolio on their website that describes previous projects. Another approach is to find out if you can speak with their former or current clients. Look at their previous work with an eye toward determining whether it’s similar to the projects you need them to complete. 

7. Do a Test Project

If you’re not sure about a candidate, arrange to complete a test project. For example, if you’re hiring a writer to help with marketing materials, choose a small project, such as a brief article, to start with. Using this strategy, you can get a great understanding of the quality of their work, as well as their efficiency and professionalism.  

8. Maintain Open Communication

If you find one or more subcontractors to work with, great! Remember how challenging it was to find them and do everything you can to keep them around.

One of the best ways to do this is pretty simple: keep them informed of what’s going on with your company. Let them know immediately if you need to increase or decrease the amount of work you give them, or any other major changes that will impact the relationship. 

9. Recognize the Value

As your company grows, don’t make the mistake of considering subcontractors as an afterthought. Instead, recognize the value they bring to the company as much as employees, vendors, and clients. Consider sending them a gift card or other special treat during the holidays or simply letting them know regularly how important they are to your operation. 

Level Up With Subcontractors

If you want your company to grow but aren’t yet ready to take on regular employees, subcontractors can be a great help. You can use them for just one project, occasionally to fill in gaps, or regularly almost as a member of your staff. Use the tips above to find subcontractors who provide just the right skills to take your business to the next level.