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Finding the Right Consultant – Experience vs. Cost

By Jane Markell

Let’s say you’re a busy manager. You’ve finally been given the okay to hire a consultant or contractor. Now you have help to handle overflow and take the lead on some important, but time-intensive projects that always seem to fall to the bottom of your list.

How Do You Pick the Right Consultant?

Here are a few tips on how to find the right talent and get the most value out of the consultant you hire.

Whether you work with a recruiter, a placement agency, get a referral or place an ad on a website, you will save yourself a lot of time and make it much easier to zero in on the right person if you think about the following.

Before you start your search:

  • Define the project. Write a high-level description (350 words or less) of the general role and what needs to get done.
  • Identify skills and experience. What experience and skills are required to meet your expectations? Narrow the field to the top three to four must-haves.
  • Quantify the hours per week. How many hours per week do you think this will require? How much time do you have to manage, direct or support the consultant?
  • Determine location flexibility. State whether the consultant has to be on site or not.
  • Determine budget flexibility. How much have you allocated for this resource? Are you willing to spend more or less of your time managing the person depending on their experience?

During the interview:

  • Define the project. Highlight what’s most important to you as the hiring manager.
  • Determine interest. Ask why this project interests the candidate.
  • Understand their approach. Ask how they would get started on the project and how they would approach getting the work done.
  • Review work examples. Ask the candidate to provide examples of work experience with similar requirements and the outcomes of those projects.
  • See if they understand what you are looking for. Do they seem knowledgeable, capable and confident that they can add value?

Selecting the Best Candidate for You

Once you’ve narrowed the candidates to the ones that meet your requirements, deciding whom to hire frequently comes down to cost versus experience.

If you have the time and don’t mind overseeing the person you hire day to day, then a more junior person may be a great fit for the project.

However, if you’re drowning and need another “you” to take work off your plate, you will be far happier with a more senior consultant, even if you have to cut hours to make it work with your budget.

Most importantly, choose the person you feel the most comfortable working with, someone who “gets it” and wants to help you succeed.

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About Jane Markell

Jane Markell is a Digital Marketing Leader and Creative Project Manager based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

One thought on “Finding the Right Consultant – Experience vs. Cost”

  1. Great article Jane. I shared it with a bunch of friends on Facebook and will be using it frequently in the future.

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