Now that you've identified what success looks like, it's time to kick off the planning process.
In the plan phase, you'll gain clarify on how to meet your business objectives and fill the talent gap on your team.
To begin the planning process, you will first need to craft a project description that specifies what the consultant will do. It is essential to do this before talking to candidates because you want them to be able to hit the ground running and add value from day one.
Considerations for drafting a project description
Frame everything from the perspective of “what do I want this person to do and deliver?”
- Do you need a strategist, a tactician, or a combination?
- Determine desired schedule: full-time or part-time?
- Will the work be completed off-site or on-site?
Know your budget. Don’t waste precious time on interviewing candidates until you know your exact budget and are sure that the funding is available for you to access.
Fair rates for consultants can fluctuate depending on the market and the skills required for the project. Get a sense of the range of market value by asking your colleagues what they are paying for similar expertise and by searching sites like payscale.com and salary.com for local rates.
Accessing & interviewing talent
Sources for finding on-demand talent
- Word of mouth referrals – The old adage “it’s all about your Rolodex”… Is true!
- LinkedIn – Search for talent using the Advanced Search feature (in the keyword field you can type in “consultant” or even more specifically, “digital marketing consultant”).
- Job posting sites – Finding consultants can be more difficult on job posting sites, but having a well-defined project description will attract the best candidates.
- Freelance marketplaces and platforms – These platforms connect businesses with freelancers worldwide and offer an efficient way to post projects and search for skills.
- Specialized Talent Agencies – Leverage the knowledge and access of an agency to find the best consultant for your project. The benefit of working with an agency is that it is faster than going through the steps of finding consultants on your own. BEWARE: Not all talent agencies are created equal. Be sure to select an agency with an already diverse and proven community of expert talent.
You are probably a pro at hiring FTEs, but what about when it comes to hiring a consultant? There are three specific things to focus on during an interview with a potential consultant:
- Ask about specifics – An interview with a potential consultant should never start with the generic “tell me about yourself” statement that you may pose to an FTE. Instead, ask them to share specifics about their contributions and accomplishments on past projects.
- Understand more than hard skills – Anyone can put their hard skills, experience, and accreditations on a resume. Treat the interview as a dry run for how the candidate will approach the project. For instance, put the consultant on a whiteboard with a problem to solve. Don’t expect a perfect answer they don’t know your business yet - but this will provide a great snapshot of how well they think on their feet.
- ABCs – When searching, screening, and interviewing for a great consultant, we recommend that you look for the ABC’s: great Attitude, ability to Build trust, and effective Communication skills. These seemingly small skills appear obvious but are the differentiating attributes between good and great consultants.
Let's get to work. Next steps:
- Ask yourself: Do I have the appropriate budget approval to bring on a consultant? If yes, great! If not, describe what is needed to achieve approval.
- Draft a compelling project description.
- Identify the hard and soft skills that you need on your team.