We’re often asked what sets Gun.io apart in the freelance platform space, for clients and freelancers alike. As a platform built by engineers, for engineers, we can answer confidently that our differentiator is our commitment to incredible talent - our Professional Freelancers. If you read our piece on building a world-class remote team (or if you’ve ever seen me order at a restaurant), this reference will come as no surprise to you - our Professional Freelancers are our secret sauce.
Well, not so secret anymore. This piece spills the recipe.
If you’re reading this, you’re likely considering applying to be a Gun.io Professional Freelancer, which means you’re likely motivated by the autonomy, flexibility, and responsibility that comes with freelancing. Nice - that’s what we like to hear.
But what does it take to be successful on the Gun.io platform? What can you expect once you hit “apply”? And how long before you, too, find yourself wearing the iconic Hat and Glasses at all times?
The last question is still under review, but read on for a breakdown of the Professional Freelancer, and what it takes to become a successful one.
The Myth, The Legend: Gun.io's Vetting Process
While I’m sure it would be a good one, the “triple-vetted” descriptor we use for our Professional Freelancers isn’t a schtick - really, you’ll be vetted three times, and not by robots. You’ll have at least three meaningful interactions with our team, including one of our executives, before joining the community.
Why is our vetting so tight? You’ve dedicated your professional life to becoming the best at your craft. We dedicate ours to representing that expertise well and landing you engagements with incredible clients. To do that, we both have a reputation to maintain - and wouldn’t sacrifice it for the sake of assembly line-style “vetting” that lets unreliable talent through the cracks.
We start with a code challenge as the initial step-in to the interview process to gain a sense of your execution and expertise, beyond your résumé and LinkedIn profile. Full transparency here: code challenges are not our favorite. But we work with your own peers to hand-pick the most valuable tests, in tandem with custom-writing our own. Clients are asking to see scores and results more and more, so knock this out of the park by completing the warm-up exercises and playing with some sample challenges.
This is followed by a 30-minute interview to understand your experience and areas of expertise. At this stage, it’s all about demonstrating your professionalism, English-language fluency, and leadership experience, as well as your current availability and interests. You can prepare by:
Having your current availability nailed down - how much time are you able to commit to a Gun.io project?
Reflecting on your areas of expertise
Understanding what areas you aren’t interested in working, or wouldn’t be able to contribute much value
Thinking about projects you’ve worked on as “case studies” and be able to articulate how you contributed to them, and what you learned
The second assessment is a technical interview with one of Gun.io’s Technical Leads who specializes in your area of expertise. They’ll dig a bit deeper into your specific technical skills and competencies. Expect to geek out a bit…and enjoy it!
This gives us a good grasp on where you're able to provide the best value to Gun.io clients. To nail this, be sure to read the call instructions ahead of time (to avoid being late to a technical interview due to...technical difficulties) and, as worn as it sounds, be yourself. Like I said - you’ll have some fun with this.
We round vetting out with a character assessment with one of Gun.io’s executives. During this conversation, we look for the soft skills that we’ve found make folks not just great engineers, but fantastic Professional Freelancers who can make themselves a lot of money on our platform.
So...what makes a fantastic Professional Freelancer?
One Part Freelancing Savvy
Professional Freelancers understand how to quickly add value to a new project and build trust in a remote environment. They're folks like you who are committed to maintaining a full book of challenging freelance work and have case studies to prove it. They can deftly identify opportunities tangential to the original need. These skills are crucial to succeeding in our ecosystem.
To make your onboarding a success, we recommend coming to the table with a fair amount of pre-research about the client, initiating prompt and frequent personal touch points, and setting quick and meaningful goals to meet within the first 20 hours of the engagement.
Professional Freelancers aren’t moonlighters or side hustlers - they’re folks like you who are committed to maintaining a full book of challenging freelance work. They don’t ghost on commitments, stretch themselves too thin, or drop off the grid with no explanation.
While it may sound counterintuitive, to make a lot of money at Gun.io, you need to know and respect your limits to avoid over-committing (and therefore under-performing). If you’re managing multiple projects, we encourage you to maintain and share a weekly schedule with your clients to be sure your expectations are aligned.
When new opportunities arise, we hand-pick the top candidates on our bench to be introduced to the client within 48 hours. Our Professional Freelancers are quick to respond and flexible when it comes to scheduling. This standard allows us to deliver on our promise to our clients: white-glove service with incredibly fast turnaround time.
Our advice here? Don’t sleep on opportunities. Set up your Slack alerts to be notified of matches in real-time, and stay on top of your calendar so scheduling interviews is a breeze.
One Part Inter- and Intrapersonal Skills
Professional Freelancers are absolute pros at navigating complex client-project scenarios. They’re self-aware enough to know where their strengths end and weaknesses begin, and can identify and communicate opportunities to parachute another level of expertise into a project. Theres a level of politics when it comes to inter and intrapersonal skills.
A deep understanding of those dynamics goes a long way in creating stable, long-term projects for themselves.
And Two Parts Communication. Lots of Communication.
I recently hired someone to do a few improvements on my house, and their work coincided with a trip I had planned out of town. Instead of the dreamy devil-may-care weekend I had imagined, I spent the trip stressing about whether or not the work had been done, and what my home would look like when I returned.
Could I have texted them? Yes. But as with any remote engagement, the onus was on the contractor to provide updates along the way. Without these, the relationship soured - even though I returned to a beautifully finished home.
Nothing is more important than communication in a remote environment. Professional Freelancers have a personal philosophy and playbook as it relates to communicating their work and progress, within the context of a remote, freelance setting. They provide well-summarized daily updates and roadmaps for their work without being asked - which goes miles to communicate their value to the client.