5 Key Considerations for Hiring Freelancers in 2021

April 18th, 2021

hiring freelancers in 2021

No matter how your business or team fared in relation to the 2020 pandemic, hopefully things are looking up. At 10x, we spent the past year helping companies find freelance talent in order to navigate their way to more stable times. Fortunately, we are just about there, and all of the companies who’ve turned to us for help are alive and well.

Those who have recently turned to us understand that hiring freelancers can unlock a number of key benefits for their companies. It doesn’t really matter the size of the company, or the vertical, or the systems in place. What matters is being able to recognize the various pockets within your company where an expert freelancer could step in and make a difference.

On-demand tech talent can truly be a game changer. In this post, we’ll cover 5 key things for hiring managers and executives to consider when exploring the idea of hiring freelancers. 

Hire Slow and Rent Fast in 2021

We’ve written before about an approach to hiring freelancers that we call Hire Slow, Rent Fast. It’s pretty simple: Companies should take their time with full-time hiring until the perfect candidates come along. The investment in a full-time employee is simply too important for the process to be rushed. And right now, the job market is racing back, so wait times for the right person are expanding.

In the meantime, freelancers can be “rented” quickly to fill in the gaps wherever needed. Looking for the perfect L5 SWE? The Hire Slow, Rent Fast model would encourage you not to put engineering projects on hold during the hiring search. Instead, contract an expert engineering freelancer to push your important projects forward.

For some of the reasons detailed below, “renting fast” is a strategy that can (and should) be deployed at any time, with confidence. In 2021 and beyond, these hiring considerations will help separate the most innovative companies from the rest of the pack.

5 Key Considerations for Hiring Freelancers in 2021

The world is moving faster than ever before. Top tech companies saw explosive growth in 2020, and with the pandemic nearing its end, we see little reason to expect economic contraction in the near term. That means startups, SMBs, and enterprises of all shapes and sizes should gear up for an active year. Here’s how your hiring strategies can keep up with the realities of today’s business world.

1. Speed

Typically speaking, the more expertise required for a role, the longer the hiring process will take. It’s simple supply and demand. It’s not easy to find a senior-level developer who can code in 4 languages and seamlessly understands your tech stack. So naturally, that hire will take time.

By contrast, highly qualified freelance talent is ready to jump in, on-demand. Whereas the hiring process for a full-time employee can take months, finding and hiring freelancers is often a matter of just a few days.

The secret sauce here is in pre-vetting the talent. Companies need to trust that a rapid freelancing “hire” is truly exceptional. This is where a firm like 10x essentially removes the time-to-hire window for clients, allowing them to move forward with temporary (or longer-term) talent within days. If you inadvertently make a mistake in bringing on the wrong freelancer, the cost of course correction is diminums in comparison to doing the same with a W2 employee.

2. Growth

The high-speed nature of hiring expert freelance talent segues right into the topic of growth. We mentioned how 2020 and 2021 brought rapid growth to some of the world’s leading tech companies. So how can you keep up?

Growth in this context has two meanings. First, team growth. Scaling up your staff to support rapid-growth initiatives can mean lots of hiring in a short window. But nothing says that team growth needs to be made up entirely of full-time employees. That would take too long. Instead, growing teams are finding ways to plug in temporary freelancers to help shoulder the weight of heavy-lift, under-staffed projects.

And the second growth context is organizational growth. If your teams and projects are growing, you would hope the resulting work will have a big, positive impact on bottom-line company metrics. Keeping up with the competition in 2021 means putting up highly-competitive numbers, and hiring freelancers can help get you there.

3. Adaptability

2020 was the year of remote work. And much of 2021 will look the same. But for full-time freelancers, the pandemic brought little change to their workflows, as they were already used to these conditions.

The past 10 years of the gig economy created a fleet of contractors who learned how to work from anywhere in the world. And as a result, these folks know how to communicate and leverage the necessary tools to achieve peak performance.

With top freelancers, managers don’t need to stress about remote work adaptability. Remote tools and best practices are nothing new, as expert contract talent has certainly been here before. 

4. Cost

As the popularity of leaning on freelancers has grown over time, the financial benefits aren’t as much of a secret as they once were. But we’d be remiss not to include this in our list. Serious savings and value can be unpacked when working with freelance talent.

From payroll taxes, to insurance, to 401k matching, to PTO, a number of major costs are mitigated when working with freelancers. As a result, the cost breakdown of a full-time employee vs. a freelancer can be pretty eye-opening.

When factoring all of the relevant FTE costs, some analyses estimate that a freelancer charging $150/hour is actually cheaper than a full time employee earning $135k/year (working the same amount). For a high-level tech role, $150/hour will often land you a more advanced developer, coder, programmer, etc. than an employee earning $135k. Employers who take advantage of this arbitrage enjoy high-quality work at a meaningful discount.

5. Low Commitment

2020 showed us how valuable it can be for businesses to have low-commitment employment deals. Cutting ties – whether temporarily or permanently – is a much simpler and affordable process with contracted talent.

We can all agree that hopefully we won’t have to worry about major furloughs and layoffs again for a long time. That said, since freelancers can be picked up and let go with less strings attached than W2 employees, they can (and should) be leveraged as a low-commitment way to get important work done.

Hiring in 2021 May Set the Tone for Years to Come

2021 will be remembered as the year the world recovered from a major crisis. But we may be entering a truly unique decade. While nobody can predict the future, some are pointing to the possibility of another “Roaring 20s,” in which business, equities, and life continue to prosper.

If there is any validity to that prediction, there might be no better time to prepare your company for new levels of success. To that end, freelancers provide an attractive solution for building a launchpad for growth. Doing so now could make all the difference, potentially sooner than we even realize.