Have you ever wished you had a second you – a clone you could leverage to take some of your work off your plate? Well, it may be no news to you that webmasters have an enormous pool of qualified talent at their fingertips if they hire workers from countries like India and The Philippines, where around $300 can often provide the equivalent of a middle class lifestyle in a first-world country.
I’ve worked extensively with all sorts of men and women from India and The Philippines over the years – graphic designers, web designers, virtual assistants, SEO consultants, and more. While it certainly is nice to have someone you can farm out all your busy work to at such fantastic rates, there are a lot of pitfalls as well.
Let’s look at some hiring tips I’ve implemented over the years to minimize mis-hires and other problems with my online business.
1. Take Your Time
It can be tempting to hire the first person that comes along or pick the best out of the five first resumes – for most people in first-world countries it just blows their mind that they can get professional help for so cheap in the first place. But take your time. Because if you rush the hiring process you can get stuck with an unqualified worker, and it’s not always easy to just turn them away once they are depending on you for a paycheck.
If you’re hiring people to work full-time, you need to take the steps any serious company would be; this employee is an investment. Solicit as many great resumes as possible and go through them. Interview them over Skype or telephone. Find out how good their English is. Ask them the hard questions and demand a track record of results and real recommendations from former bosses.
2. Start With Test Jobs
Don’t just dive in head-first and hire a full-time employee right off the bat. Instead, agree on a price for smaller test jobs – not only are you making sure their skill level is at the appropriate level but it’s important to make sure you work well together too. Some of the biggest challenges when working with people from other countries include cultural misunderstandings and different work paradigms.
These test jobs will give you a chance to feel those issues out. You might even try giving them a job just above their comfort zone to see how they perform under pressure, and even if things go well, tell them you are going to keep them on a “trial period” for a certain length of time to see how things go.
3. Know What You’re Asking
I highly recommend learning about the tasks you’re outsourcing before handing them to someone else. On the Internet, it doesn’t hurt to be somewhat of a “jack of all trades,” and when you hand someone work that you don’t understand yourself, you have no idea if your demands are realistic, how long it actually takes to do these tasks, or how to jump in and clean up any messes they make if they prove incompetent or disappear on you.
So take the time to dig your hands in and at least gain a basic understanding of every aspect of your business before delegating.
4. Establish an Accountability Process
Obviously, managing an employee who will work from a remote location where you’re not there to look over their shoulder comes with its share of unique challenges.
Before the new employees gain your trust, you’ll need a system for keeping them accountable with their hours. Of course, you can eliminate this problem by just using them on a work-for-hire basis rather than paying a salary or wage, but the latter will usually save you money.
One idea is to set up hourly work agreements on Elance or Guru.com and have them work with that system, which will log their time for you. You can set up remote viewing capabilities so you can peek in on their screen as you choose, though that’s a bit “Big Brother” for my taste.
I usually just have them keep their Skype open during work hours so I can “pop in and ask a question” if needed, and I’m pretty liberal with this privilege in the beginning to keep them on their toes a bit. I also find it effective to have the worker email me when they start work everyday and then again when they sign out, at which point I have them explain what they did for the day. There’s a lot of pyschological power in this.
Of course, there are definitely holes in all this and you don’t want to be so overbearing of a boss that there’s no goodwill or trust between the two of you. It’s very important to explain to them why these things are important to your work process and insinuate that the extra precautions are only temporary until you establish a relationship (assuming that they are, of course).
So those are some basic hiring tips to help you get the ball rolling with minimal stress. Outsourcing can definitely be worth it, but never forget that you are managing human beings now, and with that reality comes all the associated advantages and pitfalls.
Do you have any good or bad experiences hiring remote workers? Tell us about it.