After a particularly frustrating afternoon spent trying to find a subcontractor, a list of suggestions formulated for having work noticed.
A project that required extra help saw me searching available resources to find a good fit for the job last week. I doubt I’m a typical contractor, but my methods ended up covering wide ground and asking questions that I’d assume a savvy potential client would ask, and I came up with empty hands.
First of all, where did I look? Where I knew a bunch of standards-friendly web designers had their work on display, of course. I cruised through the blogroll on Web Graphics, I went through the CSS Vault’s archives, and browsed the Zen Garden submissions list.
It shouldn’t have been so tough, but two factors kept me from making a quick choice: I couldn’t easily tell if the person or company provided the services I was looking for, and I couldn’t determine whether their level of experience and skill matched what I needed.
While it’s tempting to project a grandiose image of being a large multi-faceted company which is internationally sought-after, the problem with doing so is that you miss out on a lot of smaller work since it’s assumed you’re too expensive. If you are in fact a large company, the smaller work might be of little concern. If you’re not and you enjoy working on projects that require less of your time, then you may wish to reconsider the message you’re putting forward. The market is large, and getting larger; there is a need for all levels of skill and experience.
What I often couldn’t tell from visiting a site was if the designer was an employee of some other company, or available for hire. This was important to me in particular as I was looking for an individual. Some don’t list any affiliation at all which further compounds the problem.
When I could distinguish who was an independent, the problem then became evaluating the work. You wouldn’t believe how many don’t link to their portfolios on their weblogs. If I know you, chances are I know you through your weblog; if I want to hire you, guess where I’m going to turn?
And when I found a portfolio, often it didn’t have a wide enough variety of work to form an impression. Naturally a portfolio should only contain your best work (although sometimes that rule should be broken to also include your most recent work; a stale portfolio instills doubt) but when there isn’t enough work to pick and choose, brevity doesn’t solve the problem. You need a good stable of examples to show me what you know.
In the end I found what I was looking for, but it strikes me that as we’re carefully crafting semantically rich markup and visually gorgeous surroundings to deliver our messages within, sometimes that message gets lost in the shuffle.