One third of the American work force works as freelancers, independent contractors, consultants, part timers, temps and self-employed entrepreneurs. With lay-offs continuing and on-roll jobs becoming harder to come by, the Intuit 2020 report estimates that this figure will balloon to nearly 40 percent of the overall workforce.
For growing businesses, this means being able to tap into a growing talent pool of freelancers at competitive rates, mostly via online freelance job portals such as Elance, ODesk, Guru and Freelancer. But hiring freelance contractors also poses its own set of challenges.
Firstly, businesses looking to hire contractors from any one of these portals are often faced with the problem of plenty, with a single job attracting hordes of applications from all round the globe, making it a time consuming and cumbersome process to select the right candidate for the job.
Secondly, while each portal has its own system of contractor ratings derived from feedback from other clients, these can often be unreliable. Let’s face it what’s average for you, may represent an excellent delivery for another.
And finally, there are the tax implications of hiring independent contractors which are handled differently on these sites and need to be well understood.
Coworks.com an online portal based on network recommendations
Coworks has created a solution to help make the process of finding a qualified freelance worker easier. Coworks is an online portal that combines the features of existing freelance websites with some of the features of LinkedIn. Simply put, it works on the ‘referral model’. What this essentially means is that once you list a job, the website recommends contractors who have been recommended by people within your own network on the site. So instead of having to review several applications, you will receive contractor profiles that come recommended by people known to you and therefore offer the promise of quality and trust, which are vital in any business equation.
You can even login on the site using your Facebook or LinkedIn I.D. and password. The other aspect that works in favor of businesses is the pricing. The premium package of $69 a month lets you list any number of jobs across the four job categories (writing and translations, design and illustration, photo-video and web-apps) with zero transaction fees, compared to nearly 8 to 10 percent that you would normally pay on other sites. So if you are a regular employer of freelance contractors, then this could be a real cost saver.
While the site is still in the beta stage, the model can work successfully for businesses and contractors alike by inviting people within their social circles (LinkedIn and Facebook) to join Coworks.com. The more the merrier and more the chances of doing business with someone who is known to someone you know (inspired by the theory of ‘six degrees of separation’ I suppose), which is at least half the problem solved while hiring a freelance contractor!