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Finding a great consultant is really important, especially in the early days when you don't have the money to hire somebody full time but you need the help.
But where do you go find these great consultants? I go to sites like:
Another option is to just go to UpWork. There's a ton of bad talent on that site, but there are some diamonds in the rough. You want to look for people related to the task that you need done, and you want to look at their ratings and reviews. Check out their portfolio. Have they worked on similar things to what you need done?
Basically, when you use these or any job boards, you want to make sure that you have a great process buttoned down.
How to Test for Talent Immediately
The first thing that I always like to do is get on a call with a candidate for 5-10 minutes. Then I'll run them through a training process or have them do a task.
For example, they might create a screencast telling us what they would do for our website or they might just say, “Hey, this is who I am.” Or we might have them take a typing test, just to see how quickly they type. Maybe we’ll have them find somebody else's email address, or show us how they work in Google spreadsheets. Whatever the task, the goal is to understand how they work online and whether they have the ability to figure things out on their own.
Chat with them on Skype and ask them, “Hey, how can you help me out?” Don't just ask, “What can you do?” Instead, show them your website and your ad campaigns, or whatever you need help with. Ask them, “What would you change or what would you fix?”
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If they say, “Oh, I'm not sure. I haven't looked at your site,” you can reply, “No worries. I have all the time in the world. Can you check it right now?” You want to turn up the pressure a bit because you want them to give you a good answer on the spot. If they don't, they're probably not creative. They may not be able to think fast enough. Generally, they won't be a good fit.
If you email someone and say, “Hey, here's what I want done, what can you do?” they have time to research, get help from other people and craft a response that may be perfect. But this is superficial. On the other hand, if you ask them on the spot, through video or chat, you can figure out really quickly if they're qualified and if they can help you out.
How the Best Talent Stands Out
One of our main developers is a contractor in Singapore. We found him through a job posting on CodePen.
He stood out from over 100 applicants who applied because he said, “Hey, here's what I would change on your website. Here's what else I would do.” He basically gave us a 90-day plan. I didn't ask him to do any of this beforehand. He actually took the time to research our website.
As a developer, you're not expected to know marketing skills—but this guy understood the nuances of marketing, too. He was speaking to me in the right vernacular. That's why we decided to bring him on for a test project. And he's been catching things for us ever since that I wouldn't have spotted otherwise. He's not just fine with the status quo. He's always looking for new opportunities, always looking to go above and beyond.
Once, we had a guy reach out to us to work on Growth Everywhere. I think he was using Twitter search.
He reached out and said, “Okay, here's exactly what I would do.” Then he went above and beyond by making a screencast. He told me how he would change the website if he was working at Growth Everywhere. We ended up hiring him full-time and then I made the mistake of firing him. That was the only firing I've ever regretted in my life. Now he's working at HubSpot full time.
Hiring from Your Competitors
Another great channel to leverage for talent? LinkedIn. Search for people who work for your competition who would be a great fit for you. I know some people will like this idea and some people will hate it, but it works extremely well. Just make sure that you’re careful about what you give these people. You don't want to give them anything sensitive.
Let’s say you have a lot of competitors and you need design help. Why not hire someone who works at the competition who's already doing an amazing job? If you approach one of these guys, they might say, “I've already got a job. It pays well. But some extra side cash sounds nice. Why not?”
Keep in mind that these people aren't consultants or contractors in most cases. They do great work, but they're not sure how to price things. They have a much higher chance of succeeding and getting the task done correctly and on time and, best of all, you deal with little to no risk. So try it out. I do it all the time and it works well. But I would never do it with anything sensitive that they can take back to the competitor.
Learn More: How to Recruit Great People to Your Team
Try “Forced Hiring” for Reliable Hires
Another thing I really like to do is called a forced hiring. This is straight from the playbook of Mark Roberge, Chief Revenue Officer at HubSpot. He basically helped take them from zero to $100 million per year. Now they're a public company.
Mark believed wholeheartedly in forced hiring (check out his book The Sales Acceleration Formula). What is forced hiring? Look at your current employees. Look at who their friends are on LinkedIn. Then just search for the friends that have relevant titles.
Let's say I'm looking for a paid advertising manager. Maybe I’ll talk to an employee and say, “Hey, I've gone through your LinkedIn and I've pinpointed 10 people. What do you think of these people?” They’ll reply with, “Oh you know, so and so is good. These first two or three people are fantastic.” At that point, all you have to do is ask for an introduction, which will lead to an interview.
The idea is that you’re actually taking the initiative here. You're looking for the cream of the crop among your warm referrals. These are people who are already vetted. Think about the people on your LinkedIn who have a lot of followers. Just go and look at their friends. Search for a specific title. Reach out and say, “Hey, can you introduce me to this person?” From there, you're pretty much sniping. You're going to find really high-quality talent.
Related Content: Forced Hiring: An Amazingly Effective Way To Find The Best Hires
A Caveat for Hiring
One caveat: don't try to hire people from major cities. Major cities equal major expenses. People in San Francisco and New York have bigger bills than someone from Lincoln, Nebraska or Bangalore, India. Go for regions where the cost of living is much lower and the people need the money. Then, when you pay them, even if you may not pay them anywhere near what you would pay someone in San Francisco, it will be a lot of money for them and they’ll be happy. It’s an easy win-win relationship.
My buddy Tim hired a consultant who lived somewhere in the Middle East. His name was Atool and he was so happy with Tim that he actually named his firstborn after him. I'm not joking. Tim's response was: “I should do more of this!” The point is that you can get really good work done overseas for pennies on the dollar.
This post was adapted from Marketing School, a 10-minute daily podcast in which Neil Patel and Eric Siu teach you real-life marketing strategies and tactics from their own experience to help you find success in any marketing capacity. Listen to the podcast version of this post below: