New Search Engine Seeks to Help Colorado Companies Find Freelancers

10/10/13Follow @MichaelXBD

Life can be tough for freelancers, even in industries where they’re in demand, like software development. Even the best freelancers need to keep tabs on who’s hiring and reach out to potential new clients.

The process doesn’t work that well for companies looking to hire people, either. Vetting unknown candidates is one challenge. So is telling which candidates stand out from the rest.

That could be changing, at least for freelancers and companies in Colorado.

New Tech Colorado, organizers of the Boulder-Denver New Tech meetups, has introduced a “freelancer search engine” on its website designed to help freelancers and companies find each other.

The feature flips the traditional relationship between job hunters and hirers, New Tech organizer Robert Reich said. Instead of companies posting openings, the freelancers create profiles describing their areas of expertise and skills. They also can say whether they currently are available for hire, will be shortly, or currently have work.

The process makes the hirer take the active role—freelancers create a profile and then just change their activity setting. Someone searching for a freelancer does a search based on what skills are needed, and the search engine returns the results. It’s up to them to contact the freelancer.

Specificity and availability are two distinguishing features that should speed up the process for both parties, Reich said.

“Instead of an employer posting a job and sitting back waiting for resumes, the freelancer search engine allows the employer to see who in the community that meets their specific needs is available right now,” Reich said.

But the goal goes beyond just creating a place where freelancers can list their skills. The search engine also relies on the crowd to make endorsements that verify the freelancer is honest about his or her capabilities and can direct companies to the best candidates.

“You still have to interview the freelancers, but to help you decide which ones are right, we have empowered the community with the ability to endorse specific skills,” he said.

Current search categories include developers, designers, ops, marketing, business development, strategy, and hardware design.

“We’ve already requests for additional categories and will be adding them as time permits,” Reich said.

The freelancer search engine was added to the New Tech Colorado site over the summer. Reich said more than 100 profiles are up, and there were 72 freelancers available for hire as of Thursday morning. The larger those numbers get, the more useful the feature becomes, so Reich is trying to build awareness.

The freelancer feature complements the crowd-sourced directory of tech companies in Colorado and the job board that were introduced within the past year.

The New Tech site arose out of the New Tech Meetups Reich has hosted in Boulder and Denver for several years. The group also has expanded to Fort Collins.

Among Reich’s goals for the meetups are to help build the local tech community and to give startups a place to introduce themselves to the community through monthly presentations. It has gone pretty well, with the group now claiming more than 10,000 members.

But it also has become unwieldy to keep tabs on everything, especially for an organization that’s run by volunteers in their free time. That’s why Reich decided to move past a standard page on Meetup.com and build out a new website that could answer peoples’ questions about finding jobs or employees.

The site relies on information submitted by the members, and it has surpassed what Reich could offer on his own.

“The website has more knowledge than I do,” Reich said.

It’s also regularly adding features based on ideas from New Tech members. A recent addition is a place for Colorado-based startups to put links to their Kickstarter campaigns. The feature was added to help a startup that presented at the Boulder meetup raise money.

Michael Davidson is the editor of Xconomy Boulder/Denver. He covers startups, venture capital, clean tech, energy, aerospace, telecoms, and whatever else happens above 5,280 feet. Contact him at mdavidson@xconomy.com. Follow @MichaelXBD

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  • bdnt

    Thanks for covering the freelancer Search Engine and new Tech.