Hiring Drupal professionals, part 2: Know who they are
(This is the second installment of a multipart series. The first installment was Hiring Drupal professionals, part 1: Know what you need.)
So, you're advertising/searching for the kind of Drupaller you need, now what? How can you know if you've found them?
This can be quite a challenge if you aren't very familiar with Drupal yourself. But the general principles are the same as for hiring any other kind of professional outside your own sphere of expertise. You want to look at their reputation, talk to references, check out their prior work, and watch for warning signs. Of course, there are some Drupal specific details for doing these things, too.
But before you can look at their reputation, prior work, and the like, first you need to know who they are.
Who are they?
If they are an individual freelancer, do they use their own name in advertisements and on their website? If they use a company name, can you easily find out their real name on their website?
For a company, do they advertise under their company name? Can you easily find out the real names of those working for the company on their website? When checking reputations, you need to consider not only the reputation of the company as a whole, but also the reputation of the individuals associated with the company, especially those running the company and the individuals assigned to your project.
In short, you need to know who you're dealing with, and so should avoid any freelancer or company who is reluctant to let you know.
Who are they online?
If you haven't already found their professional or company website, ask for the URL. Ask if they have LinkedIn profiles, and if so, ask to see it. (If you can't see it without being in their network, ask to be connected, if only temporarily.) Ask if they have a professional Twitter account, and if so, what their Twitter handle/username is.
There are lots of good Drupallers who don't have LinkedIn profiles and/or professional Twitter accounts, but for those who do, checking them can help you confirm a positive impression (or improve a negative impression).
Note that a pitiful website isn't necessarily a warning sign —the cobbler's children have no shoes and all that— but no website at all is strange for people who build websites for a living.
Who are they to Drupal?
Ask for their Drupal.org user number or a link to their Drupal.org user profile. (For example, my user number is 237528 and my profile can be found at http://drupal.org/user/237528). It is okay if they give you their Drupal.org username instead, though it requires more work on your part. (You can find a user's profile by searching for their username on Drupal.org and then, on the results page, clicking the "Users" link under "Or search for…".)
Not having a lot of activity on their Drupal.org account isn't necessarily a warning sign, but not having a Drupal.org account at all is strange for a professional Drupaller.
- Advertising semi-anonymously, with only a phone number or first name and phone number. (For example, on Craig's List, stay away from ads that don't include either a company name or an individual freelancer's full name in the ad.)
- No website.
- Website doesn't list any real names.
- (Drupal specific) Won't tell you Drupal.org user number/profile link
- (Drupal specific) Doesn't have a Drupal.org account
So, you've advertised/searched for the kind of Drupaller you need and you know who the people who've responded are, now what? How can you know if any of these people are who you want? Stay tuned for the next installment in this series! (And I promise there won't be as big a gap between Part 2 and Part 3 as there was between Part 1 and Part 2!)