I am all about working with, working for and hiring freelancers. Whenever I encounter someone who is a real pro at what they do I am always fascinated. There is a passion and a drive that can only be found when someone is in the zone. I think this quote captures it best:
“Whatever you do, do it well. Do it so well that when people see you do it, they will want to come back and see you do it again, and they will want to bring others and show them how well you do what you do.”Walt Disney
What is this “pro” you speak of?
We have an almost instinctive respect for someone who does something with pride and does it well, and there is a certain calm that you only encounter when working with them. These are people that are versed in what they do through experience, passion, and education (though education isn’t always necessary). There are legions of theories about when someone is a pro (10,000 hour rule, psychological models), but regardless of that, we always know when we encounter one. Someone who has mastery over their craft, be it a blacksmith, graphics designer, or cleaner.
Why should you hire a pro?
Hiring a pro, or working with them induces a calm of the spirit that only comes when delegating a job to someone that you can trust to complete it. A pro might (probably will) cost a little more than a junior or amateur, but it will save so much money, time and stress in the long run. If you want something done once, hire a pro. If you like what you’re doing and want the same thing done 2 or 3 times, hire a few amateurs first, then hire a pro.
How to recognize a pro
You should always test a pro, and they should always enjoy being tested. Ask questions, out of interest. Ask what they’re doing (or what they will be doing for you). A true pro will be able to explain well what they are doing, regardless of your grasp on the subject. A true master can abstract the subject to any knowledge level.
Conversely, be prepared to answer a few very critical questions yourself. A pro is a valuable commodity, the pro will know this and will only work with parties they agree with.
What do they do, what are they doing, what will they be doing? These questions should be answered in full, and to satisfaction. If you don’t fully understand, ask more. The “what” question is something that can (and should) always be answered. A pro that cannot answer the “what” question isn’t an amateur.
At any step, a pro will be able to explain why they are doing something. Why are you taking this action (and what should the result be)? If a pro cannot answer why they are doing something, chances are they are doing it because “everyone does that”, or “that what I’ve always done”. Answers like that are a red flag. It indicates a routine, a disinterest in the subject.
How a pro does something is something that will rarely be answered, and doesn’t need to be answered. In “how” lies the magic, the secret sauce. If I divulge all my trade secrets, that I’ve worked for years on attaining, I’d be separating from my livelihood. A pro that does not want to answer “how?” is simply someone that sees the value in what they know and do, and treats it as such.