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Expert advice on mitigating hiring risk | Mid-body shot of a person in a flannel shirt at a desk with a computer, and blurred in the background is another person sitting at the same table.
April 19, 2023 · 4 min read

Expert advice on mitigating hiring risk

There are plenty of ways to mitigate hiring risk: proper vetting, matching for company culture, and fractional work, to name a few. We recently talked about our own approach to it, but thought it would be great to dive into what other industry experts have to say.

Growing a team is one of the more risky endeavors any business can take on, so it makes sense to want to mitigate hiring risk wherever possible. Our framework for how we do that here at can help you formulate your own plan, but getting varied perspectives is also an important aspect of finding what works best for you and your team.

  • “When you work with freelancers, make sure the scope of work and timeline are well-defined. This helps avoid misunderstandings, ensures that everyone is on the same page, and helps the project stay on track.”
    — Jeff Haden, Speaker, Editor at Inc., and author of THE MOTIVATION MYTH

Starting your project with a solid vision and scope will help to identify the exact skills you need to hire for. This also sets expectations for the work you expect to see completed, the timeline it should follow, and which parts of the process hold the most importance.

  • “Check freelance job sites and social platforms for reviews and references from their other clients. Reviews and references are one of the best ways to determine if a freelancer will be reliable, professional and able to deliver what they promise. “
    — Hannah O’Brien, Digital Marketing Consultant

Most freelancers who frequent a specific platform, whether that’s us or a competitor, will have reviews from previous clients that can help you to understand how they work, and what value that work has held for those teams. It’s easier and far less time consuming than setting up calls with references and can help you separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to finding a freelancer.

  • “To reduce risk in hiring, focus on skills and culture-add. Look for skills and traits that fit your open role and company values. Culture fit is so important – it’s easier to train someone on a new skill than to change who they are.”
    — Amy Spurling, CEO and Founder at Compt

There may be hundreds of candidates for a certain position who have the technical know-how to get the job done, but how many of them are ones you want to spend 40 hours a week working with? Prioritize the main skills and the culture fit, and trust that your team can help the new hire get up to speed on anything else.

  • “To mitigate risk, look for consistency and continuity in a candidate’s background, professional growth and development over time, realistic career aspirations, and a solid work ethic beyond just technical skills.”
    — Elaine Varelas, Executive Partner at Keystone Partners

One look at a resume or LinkedIn profile should be enough to understand what a person’s career path has looked like, helping to determine if they’re a good fit for the project. Is it somebody who’s path shows they want to grow with the company? Or maybe there’s a series of lateral moves, in terms of title, as proof that they are really solid in a specific position? Whatever the case, finding a good fit starts with a little digging.

  • “Do trial projects first. Hiring freelancers for trial periods or short-term projects lets you evaluate their skills, work quality and fit before committing to an extended engagement.” — Gene Zaino, Founder and Board Member of MBO Partners

Contract-to-hire or bringing on a freelancer for a test project are two easy ways to make sure everyone on your team works well together, in addition to being able to get an in-depth look at the kind of code the developer can write. Lowering the risk by not having to commit the same all-in costs of a salaried employee also helps you to feel more confident in bringing that talent on in a full-time capacity.

Hiring doesn’t have to be a hassle, and it doesn’t have to be risky. Taking steps to mitigate the biggest threats to the hiring process can put you in a great position to grow your team in a way that works best for your bottom line.