We Discuss Our Experiences and Tips & Insights Connected to Hiring Freelancers, Subcontractors and Employees
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Jonathan Denwood: Welcome back folks to the WP-Tonic show it is episode 589. We’ve got my great co-host Steven Sauder with me, from zip fish. We haven’t got a guest this week. Unfortunately, our planned guest had to drop out because of personal circumstances, understandable ones as well. Steven and myself, I think we’ve found a really interesting subject. I’m going to let Steven introduce himself first. Steven, would you like to introduce yourself to the new listeners and viewers?
Steven Sauder: Yeah, it’s just like you said, my name is Steven Sauder from zip fish.io where we make Word Press fast by optimizing both the Word Press code and the code that runs the server. And then our subject today is gonna be, hiring staff, hiring staff freelancers, hiring full-time people hiring sub-contractors the whole field of hiring, which in truth can normally be a bit of a nightmare. So I and Steven are going to give our perspectives maybe some words of wisdom. Well, you get that from Steven. I’m not sure how much wisdom you’re going to get from me. But, we are going to share our general experiences. And if you don’t agree with us or you want to pass a comment, please leave us some notes on Facebook or on the WP YouTube channel. I’ll answer all your questions or comments.
So, Steven, you have been trying to hire some people lately. What has the recent experience, are there any insights that it’s taught you so far, Steven?
Steven Sauder: Yeah, I think right now the hiring market is really interesting because it feels extremely hot, much like the housing market. There are a lot of people, that are looking for jobs, but it seems like the top tier talent has placed and has a lot of people looking for them and out there trying to find them. So if you’re, you know, I’ll just arbitrarily say if you’re above the 50% mark, it seems like in whatever industry you’re in, but specifically, I’m talking about, development, like coding and that kind of stuff. It feels like it’s hard to find good people. I’ve interviewed a ton of people and I feel like I’ve had to interview more people today to find a good person than I, you know, had to maybe five years ago which is interesting.
I don’t know if it goes hand in hand with like when the economy grows that, is harder to find people, I assume that would make sense because there are more people more work. So more people are looking for jobs or there are people looking for jobs, but like there’s a lot of work out there. So employers are looking to hire people is what I’m trying to say. I said that wrong. So it was really hard finding a good person. And I feel like whenever you’re hiring somebody, there’s always like that tension between, I have work that needs to get done and it needs to get done now. And I don’t have somebody to do that. So I need to find somebody to do that. And if you choose to go down the route of hiring a full-time person, there’s this pain of like, it takes time to find that right person. And how long do you let the current team, you know, burn the candle at both ends to try to get the work done versus just hiring the first person you find and not, you know, waiting to find that the exact person that fits all of your needs, your criteria and the company culture.
There are just so many things that go into finding the right person. It’s not just like, Hey, can you do X, Y, or Z? There’s a lot more around hiring an individual than that. This is why sometimes I think it’s better to just, you know, find a contractor to get work done. But when you have a certain level of steady threshold of work, it’s probably at least in my experience better to find a full-time, person to come work for you and your team. It’s just a little bit more buy-in and a little bit more, I think strategic thinking that goes around, when an employee is part of a team and plans to be there for a long time versus a contractor, who’s just, you know, project-base. But that’s my own personal experience. I know some people have like done some great things with complete contractor teams. And I would honestly love to know, how, how people find really good contractors to work with. I feel like that’s something that I’ve always struggled with, whether it’s, you know, going on online marketplaces like Upwork or, I don’t know, like the thousand other different places, finding good people is hard, whether you’re hiring full-time or not.
Jonathan Denwood: Well, there isn’t really I someplace is really stable, but I think, I think hiring people is a bit like dating. If you want, to attract really good, con subcontractors, you really got to put yourself in their mindset as well. You know, what they’re looking for is, you know, which is difficult to supply is a consistent stream of work that you’ll pay, reasonably don’t say often but that just goes with the territory, but you’re promptly paid to put it that way there’s a consistent level of work and the person you working for as a subcontractor has some idea what they doing.
Steven Sauder: No, that’s a really good point. Like I think that like the problems that I’ve run into with contracting work out has always been that there isn’t necessarily a steady enough stream of work, right? So we’re, you know, maybe giving them 10, 20 hours a week, sometimes less sometimes nothing. And then, so they’re always filling their books with other people’s projects. And then there are these moments where you’re like, oh, I need something ASAP, but they’re working on other people’s stuff and you can’t, you know, they’re dictating their own time. And they’re gonna, you know, gravitate towards people that give them steady work, that’s work that they enjoy and could work.
And maybe that’s like where I’ve always run. The problem is that generally, whenever I’ve looked for contractors, it’s been, you know, 10 hours a week or something, you know, around that. And so it’s always hard to be taken as a priority. I think when you are giving somebody fewer hours than when you have something that you can give somebody full time, right. Even if they’re a contractor, they’re essentially a full-time employee, you’re just paying them differently. Watch out if you’re in the state of California though.
Jonathan Denwood: I would not suggest actually, and not only in California, but the internal revenue service, you can actually get into some hot water there. I, don’t hire anybody on that would get close to that threshold of being could be seen as they are actually really been employed by me. I don’t even get to that threshold with my offshore employees. I think that the thing is that there is no golden answer to this, but I think to some level putting your best subcontractors on a retainer basis is also a really good idea compared to the cost of a full-time employee, especially if you’re talking about offshore, sub-contractors, the cost savings are still going to be considerable. You know, probably a third of the cost of hiring somebody that, could be of the quality that you’re looking for domestically. so, let’s talk about your hiring process, you know, has that changed your interview, and have you got mythology that you stick to when, or does it really just go with your gut feeling than the way you interact with the individual?
Steven Sauder: Yeah, I would love to say that we have like some really intricate hiring process where, you know, we have all of these, like, I dunno, hoops or tests or checkboxes that somebody has to fill, but in reality, like we’re evaluating people on two things one, do they have the skills to do the job? And really the only way that we determine that we don’t do like any sort of like coding tests or here’s a test project,
Jonathan Denwood: I personally think they’re useless anyway myself.
Steven Sauder: Yeah. Yeah. I’ve never had good luck with them. I’ve never, like, I feel like there’s been a couple of times where I’ve worked with companies that have used like test things. And honestly, I don’t think they pinpointed good employees or bad employees very easily. So really it’s what past projects have they done? And can they intelligently talk about them? And if they have good past projects that are applicable to what we’re doing and they can intelligently discuss what they did on them, what the project was like, things that they would do, different things that they liked about it. You know, the tools and the libraries that they used. And if they’re talking about it in a very, strategical and logical sort of way, it’s pretty easy to ascertain if they really understood that project or if they were just like some ancillary person that barely knew anything about the project as a whole. like once you start digging down into like talking about how they constructed their API endpoints or why they chose to use the database that they use, or why they’re using whatever server environment that they chose to use, and they can speak about those things in meaningful ways.
Like, to me, that’s enough to know that they have enough knowledge and expertise on the material to go out and problem solves problems that we have.
Jonathan Denwood: I am not actively in diverting now, but I used to be, and also I keep myself, in the loop. Cause basically, I do that so I can keep myself, I can tell reasonably well now what level a person is at you get a feeling for it and the way they talk, like what you’ve just outlined. But, the other factor is that’s not taking into account is that I’ve had a couple, people that were subcontractors who, when it came to the code were brilliant when it came to their communication and ability to work with other members of my team, they’ve been useless and I’ve had to let them go quite rapidly because they have been extremely disruptive, a factor that’s actually. So would you agree with that?
Steven Sauder: Yeah, that brings me to like my second kind of qualification that I try to evaluate people on is just this idea of like would I hang out with them outside of work. Like, would I be friends with them? Are they interesting people? Do they have, I mean, this is like kind of a weird word to use maybe, but like the right vibe about them. But just like, just know, just using the word vibe, it’s like this idea of like everything that makes up who they are as a person. Like, do they seem nice? Do they seem genuine, honest, truthful, fun, positive, like all of these things like would I enjoy grabbing a beer with them or what I enjoy talking to him or having him over to my house for a game night or something. Would I do those things like I don’t know, like some, some people we hang out with at work, some people we don’t hang on as much?
But, just that idea that like, this is the person that I would hang out with I think satisfies a lot of this other, like who are they as a person? Like, are they going to be good at communicating? Are they not going to be good at communicating? Are they going to be lazy? Are they going to be fast? Are they, to the point, are they, you know, an A-type personality, like all those things, like make up a person who they are and make it, they fit who you are as a company culture. And there are just so many intangible things. There are a lot of people that do like personality tests and stuff. I’ve always felt like one’s gut is better than a personality test, but, that’s a controversial opinion. I know some people that swear by personality tests and I think it worked for some people.
Jonathan Denwood: I also think they are gross, misused and, actually the science behind that I don’t want to go on one of my side subjects, but it’s something that pleases me slightly because I actually looked into the history of personality tests, and fundamentally it’s a pseudoscience at best. Actually came from a psychologist and philosopher, Cole Young actually originated some of the ideas that are still used quite extensively. I actually have time for Cole Young as a philosopher. Had some parts to that word that will be dicey, but don’t we all. But, at base, it’s a pseudoscience-
Steven Sauder: I’ve always been bothered about how personality tests and assessments, like whether it’s like strike finders type stuff or, there’s a really big one now that I can’t see the name of it. I can’t see the name of it it’ll come to me, but, the borderline is almost like eugenics kind of philosophy. Yeah,
Jonathan Denwood: [Inaudible] I feel you’re absolutely spot on there it’s not strange that you actually brought that up because I’m always been fascinated by the history of eugenics because, you know, fundamentally it was the philosophy that led to the second world war and some of the worst atrocities that were linked to that conflict. The philosophy of, unfortunately poor [Inaudible 15:27] blamed for some of it was mostly his sister but a lot of it came from eugenics, which actually came from Britain and also from America So, that it actually filtered back into the intellectual loop of Germany, but it’s so interesting you bring that up because he has got a taste of what I call a pseudo-science.
Steven Sauder: Yeah. There’s something strange when you boil down human and humanness into numbers on a spreadsheet and you use those numbers to make determinations about people and what you are going to do with people and whenever you get-
Jonathan Denwood: Something untasteful about it.
Steven Sauder: Yeah. There’s and I feel like there’s a line that gets crossed from when you are talking about marketing and selling. Like that’s very different because you’re not actually impacting those people’s lives as far as hiring, firing salaries, promotions, all of that stuff. Like if you’re just talking about marketing, right. You’re just like, how do I sell this? How do I find the right person that wants this product? Well, you’re talking about, things, more internal to the organization and start assigning numbers to employees and start over using metrics too often to evaluate people, you lose this human element to it all. And I think like that’s where like giving coding tests and, personality tests and all of these like hoops that people have to jump through to get a job with you. Some of that’s good, but you have to be careful that you don’t cross that line too far because then you start seeing people as the relation of numbers and not who they are as a person,
Jonathan Denwood: Want to wrap it up for a before we go for a break, I think the tried and tested methodologies, are good ideas, references being explained about, you know, what you did in your previous employment, what you didn’t like about it [Inaudible 17:41 ] people got a very, you know, this has changed. nobody now works for 30 years or one company now are, and especially in tech and people tend to move around a lot more, then even some other different industry sectors but if, if somebody is moving around after a few months, then a few months, it doesn’t look that great.
So just basic, into, a structured interview process references, past clients, actually checking those references, having to get off your backside and actually discuss, some of the work with the sub-contractors prior clients. It does pay dividends. The other factor before we do go for a break is, do be aware that if you’re hiring because you’ve got a higher workload, you’re diluting yourself because actually hiring people unless they’re top tier subcontractors that have already worked with you and know your systems actually hiring people because you’re overwhelmed will actually make the situation worse Steven.
Because no matter how good they are it’s actually going to reduce the organization’s effectiveness even more. It’s actually going to increase the work burden not only on yourself and others, because it’s going to take a least a couple of months, maybe three to six months, depending on that person that you hired to fully bed in. So actually it will actually make the situation worse. That’s one of the nice things about subcontractors. When you got them on retainers, is that they should have, they know your processes. The internal, ticketing system You use the turnaround, what certain clients like what other clients don’t like, basically when you’re hiring new people, Steven, it tends to make the situation worse. Not better,
Steven Sauder: I think, oh, let’s go to break. And then [Inaudible20:03] we are going to go for our break we’ll be back in a few moments. Folks,
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Jonathan Denwood: We’re coming back before we go into the second part of our conversation about hiring people, freelancers, subcontractors, full-time employees, it’s all lovely stuff listeners and viewers. Before we go there, I just want to mention a free webinar. Leanne Spencer Forum member of my, round table panel are doing all in my I’m looking for the specific day. It’s going to be the second Friday of May it’s going to be the 14th of May at 10:30 AM Pacific standard time. We are going to be going into the nitty-gritty of, new ways of setting up membership websites, using marketing, automation as well. There are new ways of using tagging. You don’t have to use the membership plugin that you can link into marketing automation. And produce a system using Word Press. That’s better than Click Funnels or an active campaign. It’s an exciting build. There’s a lot of misinformation. Why don’t you join us for this free webinar on the 14th, Friday, the 14th, and learn more about a more modern way to set up these sites, not only for yourself but for your clients.
How do you join? It’s really simple. You go to the WP tonic website right up at the top, navigation. There’s a button that says webinar, you click it just ask for your name and email and we will keep you informed when we’re going to be doing it. And you’re given a link and you can just join us should be a great resource. So back to our discussion, Steven, about the lovely process of hiring, whatever form you are going to so I made a bit of a bold statement before the break. I think you wanted to reply to that?
Steven Sauder: Yeah. You were saying that when you hire somebody that it can inherently like to slow down your organization or increase the inefficiencies of the organization, which is true. The more people you have, the more inefficient you get until you hit this point where the person that you’re hiring is an expert in an area that you need help in. And if that person’s knowledge that you’re hiring in surpasses the knowledge of everybody else in the organization so that really only applies if you’re a young organization, right? Let’s say like, I’m not, I know a little bit of react. I’m not a great react program or I know way more PHP than react. I mean, I can do some things, but you know, it takes a little while if I would go out and hire- and we had like a bunch of reacting work- and I’d go and hire a react developer, that was an expert at reacting has been doing react for 10 years, has a lot of opinions on the best way to do things.
I hired somebody like that then all of a sudden, I no longer have to make these decisions on how to build an application that I’m not necessarily qualified for. And so it’s going to take me a long time to do the research and to figure out the right way to structure things. But by hiring somebody with a lot more years of experience, they can come into the situation and they can say, actually here is how you should do it. These are the problems that we’re going to face. If we do it, you know, A or B or C, and this is how we’re going to address those things. You will get those same things by hiring a very experienced contractor as well. but I think if you hire somebody in at the same base knowledge, as everybody in your group, or maybe a little bit lower base knowledge of everybody in the group, then you’re right, you would definitely have more inefficiency and it takes a lot longer to get that person, you know, ramped up and up to speed.
Jonathan Denwood: Don’t get me wrong, but I think you just got to be aware, but I think what you’ve just said about the specialist is also true, the true in that, if it’s a specific skill and you’re bringing them in, because it’s a skill that you lack or it’s going to take you time to really get yourself up to speed and there’s time pressure. Yep. Totally agree with you. Shall we go on to, hiring freelancers on, digital platforms?
Steven Sauder: Yeah. I would love to know your experience with that because my experience I’ve always had problems with it, but I probably am just doing it wrong.
Jonathan Denwood: So first of all, I’m intrigued to hear what have some of those previous problems been?
Steven Sauder: like subpar work or work, not done in the right way. And like, it just doesn’t fit the way that like our architecture or the way that we had things structured or I, felt like, I was super clear on how to do something and then I get something back that’s not done the way that I wanted to. I think, like probably where I’ve run into the most problems is when there isn’t a very clear cut, like the route from here’s where we are now. Like, let’s say a design, here’s where we are now. And I want it to look like this, get all the assets and make them exportable, but almost all of our work, let’s say just for designs and kind of keeping in that same idea, like is I have something I want it to be designed and I want it to look like something like these other five sites and I’m not sure exactly what it’s supposed to be, but do something that’s awesome and amazing. And then that has always been a super painful process compared to, like using our own internal people.
Jonathan Denwood: Yes. I think what you’re describing is nothing unusual actually. It’s definitely, those, especially clientele, that have gone direct to, Upwork or Fiverr. And there’s about, there’s a handful. There are about half a dozen of these platforms that I would consider. And, there’s a couple, but it’s mostly Upwork and five for that I’m going to aim most of my comments on, basically, it’s a skill, it’s a skill in itself when hiring people on these platforms the less, the multi-tiered the project, the better it’s going to go the more 1 dimensional the project.
Steven Sauder: Yeah, that’s a good word. One dimensional
Jonathan Denwood: I think I’m doing reasonably well actually in this episode. What I mean is I have a tendency to ask mold C-section questions on this interview, show listeners and viewers shock horror, you know, Steven tends to ask more singular questions. I feel [Inaudible 29:03] a bit better, but I have been multiple levels of a project and then putting it in Upwork and expecting an Upwork subcontractor to work out for you. Probably ain’t going to work out. It definitely ain’t gonna work out on Fiverr. but the other thing is, a lot of people tend to go, especially clientele when they go on to Fiverr, they tend to hire the cheapest person they can find, that is definitely something you do not want to do. On the other hand, some, some of the people on Upwork their rates can rapidly climb to the level where you could employ somebody domestically to do the work.
Especially if there’s a shortage in a particular skill they are like a highly experienced react, developer attempt to get one of those on that work with good reasonable English skills with reasonable experience, you probably will end up paying almost a similar, rate that you would domestically Steven. So you do have to watch the rates that are on the other side of the cheap. So you’re looking for the medium area where you’re getting good value for money compared to a domestic hire. But you are going to have to explain, supervise the work to a much higher level than I would expect that you would have to do with a domestic, subcontractor or employee. I have not found any body apart from a couple of people, but they like to say, I actually ended up having to pay them a similar rate to a domestic employee.
And then it’s a similar situation, but the only thing depending on where they’re working. You got the time difference, which can be beneficial or not, depending on what kind of work you are giving them.
Steven Sauder: If you are looking at the time, the difference has beneficial, which direction do you think is more beneficial than the other if the time offset?
Jonathan Denwood: Well, you know, in general, what this changes, I think the Far East can be beneficial. , if you’re going on Upwork at the present moment and initially it depends obviously when it comes to actual, virtual assistant kind of work, the Philippines still dominate that because of English being the main language of the Philippines. If on the more technical sides the dominancy is India, Bangladesh, Pakistan in Europe, it’s the Ukraine. so it really just depends really where your customer, supposedly if it’s US-based now, having people in the far East that will mean the work’s been done overnight well, that’s great because it’s literally you get work done. And then next morning, stuff’s done lovely but on the other hand that’s probably not going to work with clients that expect you to be the developer just to be there when they need it. When they put a ticket in, they expect something to happen. If it’s an emergency, depending on your support plan I suppose I’m talking more about my business rather than your type of business there ain’t I?
Steven Sauder: Have you ever used, online jobs.ph’s like-
Jonathan Denwood: No but I’ve heard.
Steven Sauder: I have heard about it in like four different conversations in the last month and I’ve never used that platform, but it seems like people are loving it. And, so I don’t know just a wondering
Jonathan Denwood: That. but I also, I think have you not found that when you’ve tried to hire people that you have to provide a lot more guidance and you do have to tend to check out over the work much more extensively.
Steven Sauder: yeah, it depends. It depends, again, it depends on what you’re paying them like if they’re lower, like, probably like the worst people that I’ve hired are like done the lower end stuff. And the best people that have hired, are people that are on the higher end stuff, like where I could probably hire somebody in the United States to do the project. I just don’t know anybody so I’ll post it online and then find somebody that can do it. But, you know, I’m paying 150 bucks an hour, for the guy to do something or girl like to like to get that quality level of work. It just feels like you have to pay whatever the top tier price because there are other companies looking for those people too, right? Like, I don’t know how many countries, you know, Facebook or Amazon or any of these large companies have employees in, but there’s a lot.
And if you’re really good, like you’re able to get jobs at multiple tubes of different places and so their rates are, are up there. But I’m sure there are other people that just have more knowledge. I always hear people like, I don’t know, hacking the system or whatever to get like work done and good work done, but I’ve never experienced it. So I think there, I don’t know,
Jonathan Denwood: I’ve heard all these stories as well, you know, clients saying, Oh yeah, we got this guy from India and you know, you could do everything. And he did it in half the time and he did it for $10 hour, you know, but then they are coming to us to sort out a site that doesn’t work-
Steven Sauder: You get what you pay for –
Jonathan Denwood: And then they wonder why. Well, sometimes you do, sometimes you don’t. In general, I would agree still would agree with that statement, but you’ve gotta be a bit cautious because, but I think when it comes to that, where I’m looking for the middle ground, I’m looking for value for money. I think if you’re looking for value for money, rather than cheapness, that’s a better mindset. I think if you’re just looking for cheapness you’re going to get in into a lot of problems. I also think you want to spend a lot more time looking at their reviews. I’m actually having a zoom with them. I actually will pay more money for some level of English fluency. I think it’s worth paying that bit more a lot of them resent that because they say, well, it’s a technical subject. We don’t need to be fluent.
I think, obviously putting so much in email works, but, there comes to a point where you can save an enormous amount of time by just having a five-minute chat, which would take about two sheets [Inaudible 37:07 ] what you want a crucial moment when a client is that you do, you just need something to be done. So paying that little bit extra to have somebody that’s got reasonable English fluency? It’s really, it’s a good idea, but other people would disagree. I think we better wrap up the half hours gone quite substantially. So Steven, how can people find out more about you and what you’re up to?
Steven Sauder: Head over to zipfish.io run a speed test to see how much faster we can make your website.
Jonathan Denwood: And I’ve done some very naughty listeners and viewers. I forgot to mention my major sponsor, it’s Castos what are they? They are web-based, hosting for podcasting. You need to host your audio files and you need a rock-solid RSS feed to push those all audio recordings, to iTunes, to Spotify, to Google play all the places that you need your podcasts to be available. And I was using another service folks and they were great, bit old-fashioned interface and it was a little bit expensive. I was put onto Costas by, Matt Matheus who’s now their marketing director. I paid for it out of my own pocket, started talking to them and the founder, and a really fantastic interface and great support at half the price that I was paying the other provider. And I started chatting with them and I said, I was looking for a major sponsor. Kinsta had deserted me. No I’m only kidding Kinsta were great supporters of the show. And they said they wanted to come on board.
So I’m delighted because I think it’s a fan- I’ve moved all my shows to them. They helped me out with that. They went above the call of duty to help me out. And I can’t recommend them more. So go over there. If you’re interested in podcasting for yourself or for your clients, I can’t sing their praises higher so go over there. It’s time to wrap up the show. We’ll be back next week with another great guest or if needs be a discussion between me and my great co-host Steven, we’ll see you soon, folks.
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