While some employers use freelance sites to get rock-bottom hourly rates from contractors, that practice can burn you, says Mike Cline, CEO of Tech Guys Who Get Marketing, an IT firm that regularly employs freelance tech contractors through online resources. "You always get what you pay for. That is so often overlooked when employers are looking to hire," he says.
If you have a clear definition of the skills and knowledge you need and a willingness to pay for top talent, sites that pool freelance talent can help you complete key projects on deadline and on budget. The following are the best resources on the market for finding and recruiting high-quality IT contractors, according to Cline and other managers who use them regularly.
When you're looking for a large pool of talent with a varied skill set, few sites feature more breadth than oDesk. While the site's workforce-for-hire comprises everything from market researchers to accountants, many of its contractors specialize in technical skills including software and Web development, network and systems administration and tech support.
Employers post a job on oDesk's boards, detailing the scope of work and the level of pay. Freelancers who have signed up with oDesk then apply for the job, much as they would on any other job site. The employer sifts through the applications, chooses one and hires the worker through the oDesk interface, allowing the contractor to get started immediately, if need be. The employer pays oDesk, which pays the worker, taking a 10% cut of the contractor's wages.
oDesk's scope and work verification system make it an attractive destination for employers and contractors alike.
Both employers and contractors receive ratings that help all parties determine how much experience they have and how well they work, making it much easier to weed out subpar workers and ornery clients. Contractors must complete skill tests to prove their competency in key subject matter -- anything from PHP5 to Photoshop, HTML or MySQL -- if an employer requires it.
While employers can pay contractors per project or hourly, hourly work is where oDesk really shines. The site uses a Work Diary to track and record exactly what a contractor is working on. The contractor must log in before he or she works on the project, and the record is automatically sent to the employer when the contractor logs out -- ensuring that contractors aren't billing you for time spent Web surfing or chatting with friends.