Junior, Mid or Senior Freelancer: How to Determine the Experience Level You Need to Hire
Understanding what junior, mid and senior freelancer talent looks like will help you define accurate project scopes and budgets and help find the right talent to work with.
Imagine you have an opportunity to take on an amazing project. Everything about the contract sounds great, except the scope is beyond the skill set of your current team. The good news is there is now an incredible amount of top open talent at your fingertips, so hiring freelancers to fill those niche skills is a smart move.
The bad news…how do you know what experience level you need?
Should you hire a junior or mid-level freelancer? Or perhaps invest more with a senior role?
In this article, we’ll talk about what every level means and expectations for each, so you can properly determine the right experience level for your project, maximize its success and save money.
What we mean by experience level
Experience level has to do with the years of experience someone has in their work field.
The table below describes the three most common experience levels out there: junior, mid and senior, plus two expert levels: director and consultant. Check out when to consider hiring these individuals and a simple rate comparison.
Note: These descriptions are generalizations and not a hard and fast rule.
Junior Level < 2 years role experience
Junior talent is great if you have senior leaders as part of your team who can supervise and provide ongoing feedback to get the work right.
Mid Level 2-4 years role experience
Mid level talent requires less check-ins and feedback, but you will likely need a senior level person in that same position to make sure the project is on the right track.
Senior Level 5-7 years role experience
Senior talent can tackle any task without ongoing feedback or direction. You won’t need a senior level person in the position to oversee them, but you’ll still need to set time to provide a great brief and review the output.
Director Level 7-12 years role experience
Director level talent will provide thought leadership and an outside perspective to challenges, adding value to the brief. Talent at this level should consistently exceed expectations.
Consultant Level > 12 years role experience
Hire for consultant level talent when you are not sure how to tackle a project need or issue. They are often more efficient than big agencies.
Pro-Tip: The amount of time a freelancer takes to complete a deliverable is often based on their level of experience. While inexperienced freelancers have lower rates, they will take more time to get work done.
Junior level talent expectations
Junior freelancers are generally the followers of instructions and the doers of tasks. They require initial training to understand your process and will need senior leaders for direction and feedback.
Let’s take, for example, a Junior Graphic Designer. A freelancer in this position can typically:
Draw or revise logos
Make colour corrections
And other basic graphic design-related stuff
A junior graphic designer can have a big impact on moving your project ahead, but it’s important to provide oversight and guidance to ensure your project runs smoothly.
Mid level talent expectations
Mid level freelancers have more than two years of experience, usually in a particular niche. They will still require some guidance, but they have what it takes to do the work.
Another industry example is that of a mid level developer. They can typically:
Analyze the project to determine the best coding practices and technical requirements
Implement software tests and create quality assurance procedures
Document the development process
A mid level developer understands leadership and project milestones and deadlines. Yet, you might need a Senior Developer to oversee the project and provide feedback if you want top results.
Senior level talent expectations
Senior freelancers can handle difficult or skill-intensive tasks without ongoing management. They have high-level skills, and you can expect them to get the job done without supervision. All you need to do is provide a clear brief and make time to review outputs to ensure you are aligned on project goals.
An industry-specific example is a Senior Copywriter. A freelancer in this position can:
Develop a wide range of print materials, broadcast and web projects to improve brand visibility
Identify gaps in your content
Craft original content to drive website traffic and increase sales
A senior level copywriter has the expertise to get the job done without micromanaging.
Director and consultant level talent expectations
Director and consultant level freelancers provide strategic and tactical advice. They offer invaluable outside perspectives as strategists and planners, especially with complex projects or if you don’t have a process in place.
These highly experienced freelancers can execute difficult and niche tasks and help you build systems and processes, managing projects independently and sending regular reports and updates.
Take for example a Marketing Consultant. They can:
Research current trends and market conditions
Design and build branding plans and marketing strategies
Analyze marketing metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs)
Communicate with clients regularly and create marketing reports
A Marketing Consultant can help your business reach new audiences, gain more clients and keep existing customers so you can maximize your project’s success and increase revenue.
So the most important questions to ask yourself when deciding what experience level to hire is:
Do you need basic help from a junior freelancer, or do you need an expert to strategize and develop a process for your project?
Hiring the wrong experience level can turn out bad for both parties, so make sure you consider your project’s needs and budget before hiring. Check out Communo’s Guide to Scoping and Budgeting Freelance Projects for additional help.
We’ve got talent
Now that you have more clarity on the different experience levels of freelance talent, it’s time to find the perfect candidate for your job. Communo has over 65k freelancers waiting to hear from you.
Need help hiring? Communo’s Concierge team takes care of the entire hiring process for you, from writing the job description and advertising the project to interviewing and hiring the right freelancer. Get in touch to see how we can work together: [email protected]