Elizabeth and I constantly find ourselves needing talent to help with a variety of projects.  One of our mantras continues to be “There’s no I in Entrepreneur,” and we are no exception.  We have done this over a number of years using a variety of resources but we tend to migrate to elance.com or odesk.com and occasionally to Craigslist if we are looking for local talent.  The strategy I am about to share with you can shave hours off of your effort to locate talent using such resources.  And since I think in checklists, here you go:

1)      Write your job description in plain English.  No need to harken back to corporate America and use fanciful language.  Asking for someone who is ambitious or works well with others might as well yell, “I copied this from a monster.com job description.”  Instead, explain a little about your organization and what you are looking to do and where you need help.  Be specific. Here is a sample:

Podcast Engineer

I am an entrepreneur focused on developing software solutions for the educational market.  I'm passionate about getting the best educational tools into teachers hands so they can teach more effectively.   I've got about 1,200 followers on Facebook who are primarily teachers.  You can learn more about my business at

www.yourname.com

I am interested in starting a podcast and I'm looking  to hire someone with the following skills at a minimum.  DO NOT apply if you do not meet ALL of these requirements:

1) Native English Speaker

2) Located in North America

3) Past performance of developing Podcasts with examples

4) References with e-mail/phone that I may contact

I can do the recording of the podcast at my home.  I will upload the raw files to a mutually acceptable location such as Dropbox or Basecamp.  Each podcast will be approximately 30 minutes in length.  I do not envision a lot of editing as it will be pretty straightforward.  I hope to publish at least one podcast per month initially and maybe more as I progress.

Please provide pricing for the the complete production of podcast from raw file to “ready to upload” to iTunes.  Please let me know what information you would need from me as well as any tools you'd suggest I use to help me accomplish my goal.  I intend to use a Yeti mic attached to my Mac using Audacity.

I expect to get a turnaround time of 48-72 hours on an ongoing basis.

Selected candidates may be asked to arrange a brief interview with me to elaborate on approach, ideas, suggestions, and past performance.

I look forward to reviewing your podcast portfolio and getting your feedback.  Please let me know if you have any questions.

Thank you

Jim

2)      Post your description to multiple sources such as those listed above and any others that you may wish to use.  You can even distribute via your social media access.  Your network of friends and family can yield surprising results.  But be forewarned, family and friends require a different level of management so stick with friends of friends.

3)      Now, this is where it gets interesting.  After a few days or a week, you have a list of candidates to choose from. This is where the usual headache of communications and missed connections comes to a head.  Down-select that list of candidates who you are comfortable moving to the next level and put them into a spreadsheet.  Beware of those giving you a form response and/or broken English.  I have found this to be representative of the quality of your deliverable.  On a personal note, I tend to seek out native English speakers located in North America.  There is indeed a premium typically associated with that but I have found it pays dividends when things get tough, especially on complex issues, design challenges, interfaces, etc.  Where I can be flexible is if the effort is relatively manual and the main form of communication is a document, spreadsheet, or similar.

4)      Next step is to enroll in a piece of software that allows you to automate the scheduling process.  We’ve used timetrade.com and acuityscheduling.com.  You will then block out times on your schedule in 30 minute blocks.  If you have 10 candidates, block out at least 10 times across your week. And try to package the times together so you can be productive and get some leverage between discussions.  Be sure to take into consideration candidates from outside your time zone.  Quite often you will learn something from the prior discussion to position on the next discussion. 

5)      Send each of the 10 candidates a note on the next steps, something to the effect of:

Dear John,

                Thanks for applying to the role of Podcast Engineer.  I’d like to speak with you more about your experience and how you might be able to help us achieve our goals.  I can also use that time to share some additional perspective and answer any questions you may have.  Please schedule a 30 minute block with me to discuss at your earliest convenience.  Use the link below to schedule a time. 

                www.timetrade.com/insertspecialcodehere

 (or for a special touch it might say yourcompanyname.acuityscheduling.com)

Thanks again for your interest.  I look forward to speaking with you.

Sincerely,

Jim

6)      You’ll get a quick picture of whose interested and who is not and you won’t waste time trying to get a hold of individuals and coordinating convenient times.  I did this recently and opened up 10 slots for 13 candidates.  They all filled up and a week later someone came back and could not book a time to which I responded that I had already completed the interviews and had made a decision.  The fact that they got to it a week later is a great indicator for me of our future relationship.

7)      Be sure to collect lots of notes in the spreadsheet as you’ll need to reference them to make a final decision.  And one last word of wisdom, do not be afraid to award a project to two people and either have them collaborate using a tool like basecamp.com or separate parts of a project.  Probability has it that one will outshine the other in some way and then you can engage them on future pieces or future projects.

This project takes at least 2 weeks typically.  One week to solicit interest, and one week to conduct interviews and collect information so plan accordingly.

As you can see, this seven step process can save you countless hours in scheduling and will allow you to stay extremely productive as you bounce from one conversation to the next.  Many times you will learn new lingo and you can leverage that on the next call.

ADVANCED Entrepreneurs ONLY:  One additional step you can do if you are up to the challenge is to create 2 separate calendars with available times.  You then break your list of candidates into top candidates and bottom candidates.  You then invite the lower ranking candidates to interview first and then invite your top candidates to the later dates.  This will insure that you are in the best position to “talk shop”.  This is also how you can become knowledgeable on almost any subject in a very short period of time.

Best of luck and happy outsourcing!

 

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