In a previous life as an operations manager, I used to have the responsibility of hiring new employees. One of the first questions I would ask in the interview was “Would you hire yourself?” Of course, the quick, knee-jerk response was always yes, but it took a little while longer for replies to the following question, “Why?”
Although freelancers have the joy of claiming we are no one’s employee, we have the unenviable task of constantly being in the hiring process with every potential client. Regardless of how professional our proposals, how friendly our personality, or how excellent our portfolio, for most it would behoove us to be able to not only answer yes to the question in the title of this post, but to confidently and successfully explain why.
This post will look at some of the main reasons you may or may not be able to claim without a shadow of a doubt that you would hire yourself. In the process, we will attempt to identify ways we each can spot those things that would keep us from hiring ourselves. We’ll also discuss how to improve on any weaknesses that we discover.
When meeting with a potential client, most of us will undoubtedly rattle off a list of qualities that we believe are our strengths. Work ethic, competitive pricing, personal customer service, exceptional quality work, and so on. You know your own selling points.
What if you turned the table and sat yourself on the client’s side? What would be most important to you in a freelancer you were considering for hire?
Some of the key elements I would look for before hiring someone for my project would be:
- Excellent communication skills
- Strong focus on quality customer service
- Proven track record of delivering quality work
- References from previously satisfied clients
Not surprisingly, these are some of my personal selling points that I present to potential clients. I believe it is no coincidence that our strengths tend to represent the qualities that are most important to us. What about you? Are your selling points your first priority in a potential hire? If so, they likely tend to become a focus that could stand in the way of getting hired by clients who are looking for other strengths.
What about those skills and offerings that are not on your list? Because freelancers deal with clients from all walks of life, it is almost guaranteed that many potential projects possess requirements that are not at the top of our own list of selling points. It is helpful to identify the more common or expected elements in your niche so you can work toward enlarging your list of selling points and therefore broaden your possibilities of getting hired. Make some space at the top of your list for new points, and then set out to figure out what they are.
One of the best ways to identify what’s missing from your list is to look at reasons you weren’t hired in the past. This self-examination will help you to get hired more often. Make it a habit to ask those who turn down a proposal from you why they did not choose you. Ask them to give you specifics, explaining that this will help you know how to improve for the future. Keep a running list of what others have considered your weaknesses and use it as motivation for improvements.
As you set out to expand your business by expanding your list of selling points, remember to give yourself regular check-ups to track your progress. Look at past proposals, emails to potential clients and other communications where you have put forth your selling points. Compare them with current communications. Discover where you are, and are not, growing. Look at the language used, the points made, and the overall approach. Is it changing for the better? Is your list expanding? If so, keep up the good work! If not, try to determine why and make changes to initiate growth.
Another way to check your progress would be to interview yourself regularly. Sell yourself to yourself, talking about your strengths and why you should be hired. Keep notes on how those interviews change from one to another. Quick tip: I strongly suggest that you conduct these self-interviews behind closed doors in order to avoid strange looks from passers-by.
In order to keep anything healthy, it must have regular check-ups to look at progress and make sure everything is on track. Commit yourself to do the same with your plan for growth and you can’t go wrong.
What are your selling points? Do you have a plan in motion to expand your list? Have you identified your weaknesses as potential clients see them and set a course to improve upon them and turn them into strengths? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.