Outside Help: When and How to Hire Consultants

When to hire consultants

Hiring managers face difficult decisions every day. Should I hire a permanent employee or an independent contractor? Which applicant best fits the position I am attempting to fill? However, no decision probably evokes as much tension as hiring a consultant. Consultants create tension because they are essentially management-level individuals with little perceived accountability, and their jobs are judging others by performance and position. It’s no wonder that consultants are mostly met with skepticism by the company’s full-time employees.

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You may be able to avoid issues by learning how best to hire consultants. As with any employment agreement, you want to ensure that all communication with the consultant is clear and concise. Having a written brief that can be submitted for the consultant’s understanding may be appropriate, and working with your legal team to ensure that any agreement covers the necessary work product is a sound way of doing business.

Also, researching the consultant’s organization beforehand is always a good policy. Much like other occupations, consultants have specialties, and you want to make sure that you hire a consultant that is familiar with your situation.

These tips should help you find the best consultant for your needs. Whether you should hire a consultant or not, however, may be a bit more complicated.

When Hiring a Consultant May Be Best for Your Business

Hiring a consultant announces to the world that your business is serious about creating profit and restructuring. Almost all matters involving consultants are followed in various financial journals, which may mean free publicity for you and your company.

Internally, hiring a consultant should be rare and should communicate the severity of a problem or situation. Employees should never feel hiring a consultant is a common occurrence. Hopefully, that atmosphere will be conducive to cooperation with the consultant.

Here are two scenarios in which you probably should consider hiring a consultant.

1. A Workflow Process Is Broken and No One Knows How to Fix It

Most corporate veterans are aware of this scenario. A workflow process is completely broken and usually, one employee is running around trying to make sure the process doesn’t completely break down. This employee has a thankless task and generally doesn’t have the authority to make changes that may make everyone’s job easier.

Moreover, this broken process generally covers many different departments, so no one person knows exactly how to fix it. Even worse, sometimes senior employees fear change, so they throw up roadblocks that employees won’t be able to outmaneuver. In cases like these, a consultant can be a godsend. The consultant isn’t wedded to the process and doesn’t have any preexisting ideas, which may compromise efficiency. As an outsider, the consultant can mingle with every department, avoiding any social norms, which could hamper an efficiency increase. Also, consultants are difficult to “outrank,” so employees with their own petty fiefdoms tend to be bulldozed by a relentless consultant. All in all, having a consultant is positive in this instance.

2. An Outsider Is Needed for Interests of Fairness

Haven’t you wondered why nearly every Hollywood award show features an appearance by accounting consultants? Well, it’s simple. To achieve the perception of fairness, the host features consultants to prove that the vote counting is evenhanded.

Similarly, in your business, consultants are impartial when handling difficult situations. If layoffs need to happen in a department, a consultant can make decisions that will help the company’s bottom line but may be too difficult for full-time staff to make without coming off as biased.

With an outside consultant, ex-employees are likely to appreciate that their termination was nothing personal. As we all know, humans are tribal beings and form allegiances. If a manager fires an employee considered valuable by coworkers, they may become disgruntled, which will affect productivity. Using a consultant avoids these issues.

When Hiring a Consultant May Not Be the Best Idea

Hiring a consultant may not always be the best practice. Here are a few situations in which avoiding hiring a consultant may be for the best.

1. Everything Is Going Well with No Issues on the Horizon

While this may seem self-evident, hiring consultants when a business is up, running, and making a profit isn’t the best policy. Consultants are generally hired to fix problems, and while they can make suggestions to improve workflow, consultants may also find problems where none exist and suggest unnecessary changes. Also, a happy, productive staff may be upset with an unwarranted intrusion by a consultant. So, if everything is going well, why rock the boat?

Another situation to avoid is hiring a consultant without informing affected management first. Nothing diminishes the effectiveness of a consultant more than a manager who has been unnecessarily alienated. Inform all stakeholders before bringing the consultant on board, unless the stakeholder is part of the problem and can quash the implementation of the consultant.

2. The Company Already Knows the Solution to the Problem

Often, a company knows what the solution to a problem is but is unwilling to implement it. In this situation, a consultant may well be helpless and hiring one would be a waste of time and money.

For example, if an irreplaceable employee using a proprietary system has a poor attitude, the answers are obvious and probably won’t need a consultant’s perspective. Changing the proprietary system, forcing the employee to train a replacement, or reaching out to the employee and seeing if any negativity can be abated are just a few of the obvious solutions for this problem.

However, if the company refuses to implement these solutions (such as a manager who refuses to terminate a troublesome employee), it’s unlikely that a consultant will be able to fix the problem. While hiring a consultant in this situation may seem proactive, it simply is a procrastination technique and should be avoided.

Deciding When to Call a Consultant

Deciding when to hire a consultant is a tricky decision. Every company faces differing obstacles, and hiring a consultant may not always be the right call. Using the guidelines listed here, you can decide on the correct course of action quickly and confidently.

If you’re a hiring manager trying to find that perfect employee, contact us at Mapertunity. Our Geographic information system (GIS) will help you find a candidate close to your workplace, while our job portal helps you sort through resumes.

Hiring Independent Contractors Versus Full-Time Employees: A Tough Decision for Hiring Managers

Hiring Independent Contractors

It’s the age-old question. Should a hiring manager employ independent contractors or permanent staff members? The answer may not be as simple as you think.

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Independent Contractors and You

Independent contractors seem like a win-win situation for the harried hiring manager. In principle, independent contractors are small businesses and individuals that are hired for a specific length of time to perform a task. Independent contractors are invaluable when your company is tasked with a certain project that’s out of the company’s general purview, and you need to get it done right away. In that instance, you can hire an independent contractor for the duration of the project and when it’s done, simply terminate the contract.

This may seem easier than hiring a full-time employee for a temporary project (even using our job portal), and it undoubtedly is. Generally, hiring managers don’t need to worry about benefits or sick time when using an independent contractor. This factor alone can save a company thousands of dollars. Paperwork is far less stringent with an independent contractor, and so is the legal liability.

When to Avoid Independent Contractors

With advantages such as those listed above, it’s not surprising that hiring independent contractors is becoming more popular. Companies relying mostly on independent contractors seem to be cropping up all over the place. However, there has been some abuse regarding the “independent contractor” term, and some states are starting to crack down on those abusing it. Here are some situations in which you want to avoid hiring an independent contractor:

1. You Need Control Over the New Hire’s Schedule

Independent contractors should always have control over their own schedules. If you are setting the hours in which a new hire works, he or she should always be considered an employee.

For example, you hire a worker to come to the office and clean out old paperwork. If the worker is an independent contractor, he or she will suggest a time to come in and do the work. The hiring manager will also need to work with the contractor to determine their availability.

Obviously, if you hire an employee, you will have control over their schedule. You can ask an employee to come in at 6 a.m. to clean out the paperwork, or 8 a.m. or whenever you want. This type of flexibility for the employer is a good reason to hire a permanent employee for a long-term position instead of choosing an independent contractor.

Now, can you hire an independent contractor and then insist that they show up at a certain time for the duration of the contract? Sure, but they may have grounds for suing your company for unpaid benefits if the contractor claims that they are actually an employee.

2. Your Core Business Would Depend on the Contractor

If your core business is making widgets, and you hire an individual for the sole purpose of making said widgets, that person should be an employee. Not only is this good common sense, but it is also the law in California, which is cracking down hard on what the state considers to be employees deliberately mislabeled as independent contractors.

What about large companies that rely almost exclusively on independent contractors as their core business? To that, we have a couple of observations.

First, many of these companies haven’t yet made a profit. While this is due to a number of factors, it’s not unreasonable to think that trying to hire independent contractors as employees may be one.

Second, certain companies are also embroiled in a lawsuit with the state of California over hiring independent contractors for their core work. Unprofitable conflicts such as these should be avoided if possible.

3. You Need the Employee Long-Term

Long-term plans are great for hired employees. Some of the most successful hiring managers continually plan paths of achievement for new hires to make sure that they don’t get frustrated and burn out. However, this mode of thinking can only be detrimental when hiring an independent contractor.

Contractors should generally only be considered for short-term projects. Any type of long-term strategizing with them is usually a waste (and may be illegal).

When to Consider Independent Contractors

Of course, there are times when hiring new employees should be avoided, and independent contractors should be hired instead. Here are a few listed below:

1. You have a Limited Headcount and the Job Is Secondary and Short

No hiring manager can hire as many employees as they deem necessary. Instead, the manager must work within the confines of the system. If a job is short-term, an independent contractor will work better for headcount than a new employee will. After all, the independent contractor will be dismissed once the job is completed, while the new employee will remain after the job is over (and may possibly have nothing to do).

2. The Job Would Require Training to Oversee

All employees require managers, especially new hires. If a manager isn’t available that matches the employee’s skill set, then it may be time to consider an independent contractor who shouldn’t need hands-on management.

For example, a hardware store needs to build a new website. No one currently working at the store knows anything about computers, and there is no long-term need for computer knowledge. In this instance, it probably would be advantageous for the company to hire an independent contractor. After all, the new hire would probably be treated as an independent contractor anyway.

The Choice Made Clear: Independent Contractors Versus Employees

The choice between independent contractor and employee seems difficult at first, although it may be easier with our Geographic information system (GIS). However, with a little bit of knowledge regarding the position being filled and some understanding of the law, the answer may become obvious. The independent contractor versus employee question may be stressful for a neophyte hiring manager without the right tools. But it shouldn’t be, and it doesn’t need to be. With this advice, any hiring manager can make the right decision.

If you’re a hiring manager trying to decide whether to hire a full-time employee or an independent contractor, contact us at Mapertunity! Our job search power tool will help you will find the latest job market trends.

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Attitude Versus Capability: A Guide for Hiring Managers

Attitude vs Capability when Hiring

Some hiring decisions are easier to make than others. For example, a perfect candidate would interview well and impress everyone. Then, after hiring, the new employee transfers seamlessly into your company’s culture and immediately shows productivity. Don’t expect this to happen too often (although it may be easier with our job portal, which is a LinkedIn Killer).

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One difficult decision a hiring manager often faces is the question of attitude versus capability. Certainly, having a candidate with clear examples of both a positive attitude and outstanding capability on a resume is the optimal situation. However, perfect candidates, much like anything perfect in life, are rare.

5 Things to Consider When Hiring the Perfect Manager

Hiring managers shouldn’t rely on an ideal candidate walking through the door in response to a job posting. Instead, the following considerations should be kept in mind.

1. Supervisor and Coworker Attitude Matters

A thorough hiring manager will generally have a meeting with the vacant position’s coworkers and supervisor before posting any sort of job listing. In this meeting, pay close attention to the supervisor’s demeanor. If the supervisor seems patient and understanding, you may want to consider a candidate with a positive attitude. Most individuals with a positive attitude can be easily trained, especially if the supervisor is willing to mentor a new employee.

However, if the supervisor seems stressed, curt, or distracted, you probably should consider an applicant with a proven capability for the position. Even if the new employee also has less of a positive attitude, skills matter in this situation. A supervisor that is obviously harried does not have time to help the new employee, who must “hit the ground running.” In this instance, capability could win out.

When attending this meeting, also consider the rest of the department. Coworkers have their own perspectives, and some employees may be more accepting of a new hire with a great attitude, while others may prefer to work with an individual with proven capability.

Office gossip generally should be avoided by hiring managers. However, it may be good to know what’s going on within the department when hiring. In these situations, a hiring manager may want to listen to what other employees say about the hiring department. However, while useful, any information gained this way should probably be taken with a grain of salt.

2. Task Yourself with Knowing the Tasks

Of course, the hiring manager should consider the position being filled when deciding between attitude and capability. For example, a positive attitude is probably what to look out for when hiring for a job that deals with the public, or a job in sales. Both occupations need employees who are pleasant, outgoing, and get the job done. Also, while skills are important for every career, these occupations rely more on quick-thinking and personality.

In other situations, such as hiring a computer programmer, capability should be given more weight in decision making than attitude. While no one wants to work with a surly employee, computer programmers, for example, do not need to have a charismatic attitude to succeed at their jobs. Provided computer programmers can communicate effectively and work within a team in an office environment, they can thrive and be productive. With jobs hinging on productivity, capability is most important.

3. Position Status Isn’t Just for Show

Trying to hire a competent individual for an entry-level position may be a mistake. Most individuals whose resumes present them as highly capable are already accomplished, and therefore have already been trained. If you are looking for an employee who accepts training easily and is open to your company’s workflow, you may want to consider an applicant with an excellent attitude. An excellent attitude in a new employee will go a long way in aiding a department in training. The employee will also be more likely to follow instructions to the letter.

However, if you are looking to hire a management-level position or higher, you probably should be looking for prospective employees with proven capability. While having a positive attitude is also desirable for these candidates, management needs to make tough calls and generally has a lot going on at any one time. These positions call for employees with a long resume that highlights their obvious capability.

4. The Trend of Increasing Capability and Decreasing Attitude

If you are torn between a candidate with great attitude versus a candidate with outstanding capability, realize that capability tends to increase while attitude tends to decrease over time. If someone has an attitude that seems mediocre during the interview process, they may become even more embittered as the daily grind takes hold. Eventually, you may end up with a difficult, resentful employee who hurts the team’s morale.

However, if you choose an individual who may be less capable at first, and your company is successful in training, that employee may grow to become outstanding at the job. They may even be able to help fellow employees achieve their full potential. A positive attitude can really give new employees a leg up when it comes to improving capability and becoming true members of the team.

5. Attitude is for Everyone

Even if you find an employee with outstanding attitude, realize that positivity needs to be nurtured. Irrelevant meetings, busy work, and cutthroat office politics take their toll on the most upbeat employee. Creating a workplace culture that is free from negative influences and avoids corporate jargon is imperative to creating and retaining employees with terrific attitudes. It may even help your business! Unfortunately, some employees may always have negative attitudes, but other workers could lighten up and come to appreciate the workplace for the opportunity it is, instead of seeing it as an obstacle to true happiness.

Attitude and Capability Can Go Hand in Hand

Being a hiring manager is challenging even under the best of circumstances. Deciding between a job candidate with a great attitude and a candidate with outstanding capability can be a difficult task. However, using the information in this article, you can make a decision that improves morale and productivity today.

If you’re a hiring manager trying to find that elusive perfect candidate, contact us at Mapertunity! Our Geographic information system (GIS) will help you locate qualified job candidates throughout the country.

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