The internet has provided a fantastic tool for connecting with professionals. But it has also created a problem: verifying their skills and authenticity. Going to a physical office allows you to see licensing information, scope out the location, and speak to someone face to face before hiring them. Even speaking on the phone can give you a chance to catch any red flags before you commit.
When dealing with online companies or websites for those in your local area, you face a challenge. Anyone can make a legitimate looking website. But that doesn’t mean they are going to be what you are looking for, or even trustworthy.
There is some good news, however. You can still find a real, licensed professional online. All you need to know is where to look, and how to double check their certifications.
Use a Professional Database
Don’t deal with filtering out the phonies; let someone else do it for you! A professional database that only lists people who have proven their licenses makes the process much easier, and narrows down your candidates to only the people you would like to work with.
LicenseDirect is a helpful site for this. You can find professionals in your area, verify credentials for people who find elsewhere, and create a dedicated profile both as a consumer or a professional yourself.
Searches can be done by state, professions, licensing number of name.
Check Your State Licensing Board’s Website
Your state should have multiple resources for checking licensing info. The general licensing board website (for example, this one from Delaware) will have a search feature. You can check up on anyone based on licensing type, number, name, location, or profession.
The Better Business Bureau is another way to find not only licensed professionals, but also check if there are any hits against that license, or official complaints. They will give you a rating on the overall professionalism and conduct, which can be beneficial.
Tips For Hiring The Right Professional
- Ask people you know for recommendations. Word of mouth can be some of the best indicators of trustworthy professionals. They can also help you to avoid less savory ones that have already had run ins with your family or friends.
- Look at online reviews/social media profiles. You have to be discerning when you read reviews, because plenty of companies will fake or buy reviews to up their rating. But you can usually get an idea of someone’s abilities by checking the overall ratings. If there are a lot of negative reviews, but they are countered with highly positive ones, you know something is up. But if there is a higher positive rating with a couple of negatives here or there, that is to be expected.
- Shop around before you settle. Don’t go with the first licensed professional you find. Shop around, get price quotes, check online reputations, look at social media profiles, and try to haggle a better price or deal. Try making a list of all of the things you are looking for, set in the categories of Need to Have and Like to Have. Whoever covers all of the needs and the most likes should be your first choice.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. There is no such thing as a stupid question. If there is something you want to know, ask it. If the professional in question is overly vague or resents you asking, go with someone else.
- Verify insurance/liability coverage. One of the most important verifications, outside of licensing, is their insurance coverage. Never go with someone who is not properly insured against damages, no matter what work they are doing for you.
Do you have any tips for finding licensed professionals online? Let us know in the comments.
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