People nowadays prefer working on projects rather than full-time. This has created a lot of freelancers, but, what happens when a freelancer wants to become a full-time employee? Should we take their freelancer experience into account?
As a technical sourcer, I have a few personal standards and standards my boss tells me to look for in a candidate. I see around 500 profiles daily. Among those profiles, I find many "freelancers" looking for a full-time job, some with 1 year of experience, others with more than 10. Most of the recruiters would identify that as a “red flag”.
In my own experience, freelancers are more open to being on a team, even if they have worked mostly "by themselves", and surely they can contribute a lot. What do I mean? Let me explain myself. They usually jump from project to project, facing new challenges, and that experience is priceless. They can also work alone, and that’s another plus. Some projects require autonomous developers, and freelancers perfectly fit this requirement.
Now, how do we validate freelancer experience? There is a risk that they could be lying. The good thing is that our company, FullStack Labs, has a way of knowing if the candidate is doing it. We can know through our coding challenges and self-assessment. We can test the freelancer's skills and knowledge, and we’ve seen surprises with those challenges: some freelancers do better than full-time employees, getting better scores, better comments from the evaluator, and even better offers!
Take a look at How We Hire here at FullStack Labs.
In a growing market like this, with an urgent need to fill the positions quickly,, I’ve seen good freelancer developers get hired immediately, with comments like "We don’t care if he hasn’t been a full-time employee, as long as he’s good." This is something that 5 years ago was unthinkable.
We know it is hard to get the perfect candidate and looking for freelancers is not "lowering the bar". It is actually the opposite. It gives a chance to the company to find the perfect candidate in the freelancer market, filling the roles that are required, even senior roles that are hard to find.
For instance, right now, the demand for Ruby on Rails developers is high. They are needed right now, and guess where we need to look? Yes, freelancers.
There are a lot of factors that can determine if a freelancer is a mid-level or even a senior developer. We can test his skills through a challenge, we can interview him, check his technical experience, his years of experience, and most importantly, his skill showcase. I see tons of freelancers' profiles with "autonomous work", but some of them go beyond and put more info about the technologies that they’ve been using. They can be quite detailed on their projects, frameworks, and some even put the clients that they’ve been working for. I might be a bit biased, but when I see those profiles, that’s when I say "he/she can fill this position!"
Something that I see a lot is recruiters rejecting candidates just because most of their experience is as freelancers. They don’t even give them a chance, they see them as "a waste of time." The funny thing is that I’ve had a hire whose last two experiences were as freelancers, and the feedback that we got from our clients was extremely positive!
Lastly, I would like to request something from the sourcer or recruiter that is reading this. Please don’t be biased against freelancers, don’t disregard them just because "freelancing is not a real experience". Give them a chance to shine. They might bring a lot of experience to the team that they are assigned to and even more, bring value to the company.
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