Hire a remote software consultant or a local one?

It’s time to hire a software consultant, but where do you look?

Do you look only in your local network of contacts?

Or do you look for anyone in your city?

In your state? Country? Worldwide?

Local bias

There has always be a bias for buying, consuming, and hiring locally. The main reason for this is that it keeps the money within the local community, which has indirect benefits for you.

Smallest pool

The problem comes up if your local pool of people is too small. Hiring a software consultant in New York City or San Francisco? You have a few choices.

Hiring one in Modesto, California? You might find one that’s a partial fit. Maybe.

Right person, right time, right project… and location?

With hiring you need the right mix:

  • the right person
  • with the right skills
  • at the right time
  • for the right project

When hiring locally, you have to add in the right location.

Unless you already know someone though, the chances of finding the right person locally who matches every one of these is slim.

Search in your timezone

Instead, if you broaden your range a bit, you might get around that problem. A favorite way is to look for consultants in the same timezone as you (or one timezone away).

Much larger pool

Right away you’ll get a larger pool of consultants. Instead of being constrained to one city, you’re drawing from a few states and countries. You have a much better chance to find that right person.

Also, distance becomes less of a factor too. Once you get past 50 miles away, another 5 or 200 miles doesn’t matter that much.

Easy to schedule

The huge benefit of searching by timezone instead of country is that things are easier to schedule. If you’re on the US West Coast, hiring someone in the US but on the East Coast is a 3 hour time difference. That is significant enough that you’ll need to think about it every time you talk.

But if you hired someone in B.C., Canada, they’d be in the same timezone, and scheduling will be much easier.

Just a flight away

Unless you’re working with someone on the opposite side of the globe (North/South), by hiring in the same timezone you’ll still both be close enough for in-person visits.

For software consultants this isn’t a significant problem, as much of the work can be done remotely. But for those rare times you need to meet, flying North or South to visit is easier on everyone. Not to mention there is no jet lag.

Global

Largest pool, but is it too large?

The largest pool of software consultants will be worldwide. You’ll have a much larger selection but cultural and timezone issues could make hiring more difficult. It’s possible to work around it, but it will be more challenging.

Recommendation

My recommendation is to work with people in your own timezone/one hour away. For example, I’m in Oregon which is US Pacific time. Ideally my clients will be in US Pacific, US Mountain, or US Alaska. Even though I’ve worked with clients around the globe, this region is the least challenging for my clients or myself.

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