How to secure your next freelance job

To have the best chance of securing your next freelance job or contract role make sure you adhere to the three Ps – preparation, preparation, preparation. If you don’t then you are putting yourself behind the other candidates that have, and you will fail to impress the client and secure the role. Dave Chaplin, CEO and founder of ContractorCalculator,which provides free online advice and information to some thousands of freelancers and contractors every month, believes that if you do it right it will easily become part of the natural cycle of your interviews for new contracts and here he offers up some top tips to consider that will help you find your next freelance job.

Close up of two hands shaking


Top tips on what to consider:

Why does the client need you?

Before the interview establish why they need you:

  • Perhaps the client wants to spend money to become more cost-effective.
  • Someone has left quickly and they need a replacement
  • They need a one of bespoke piece of work for which they cannot do in-house
  • They need to train their staff with the niche skills you offer

What is the company all about?

Before you turn up for the interview find out about the company:

  • how many employees
  • when it was formed and by who
  • the company’s mission statement and unique selling proposition (USP)
  • office locations at home and abroad
  • expansion rate of the company
  • annual turnover
  • current share price and how it has done over time
  • recent press announcements

All of this information will help inform your discussions and demonstrate your intelligence and capabilities.

What skills is the client looking for?

Make a shortlist of the skills you think the role will demand. Use the motivation of what they are looking for in an interview to tailor your answers accordingly. An example of a PR Consultant’s list might look like this:

  • Experienced B2B communications professional – at least five years’ experience – I comfortably qualify
  • Replace an existing team member – wonder why they are leaving?
  • Excellent communication skills written and verbal – so I will be speaking to press, clients and stakeholders as well as writing materials
  • Global company – my languages could be useful
  • Proven track record of delivering on time and on budget with strong planning and project management skills – need to demonstrate I am organised
  • Ability to think strategically and translate business objectives into implementable PR strategies – show I can work with senior leaders to deliver PR counsel and a communications plan that will impact their market position

As well as the PR skillset needed, keep in mind all the other transferable skills you have as these will be needed to drive the motivation behind your questions.

Prepare a list of questions that demonstrate your value

This is a key element of any interview process and there is nothing wrong with physically getting out your list of questions when you are at the interview and using them. It shows that you have prepared.

Your list of questions should follow these guidelines:

  • they must promote discussion about topics where you can demonstrate your relevant skills required for the role
  • they must address all of the aspects the interviewer is looking for
  • they should also demonstrate extra skills you have so the client thinks they are getting more value if they hire you.

Final preparation on the day of the interview

Before you leave home, check out the latest share prices and any mention of the company in the news. Have fresh up-to-date information on the company will give you extra kudos when they ask the inevitable first question. You can also use the information as an ice-breaker.

Any extra information whilst waiting in reception?

Get your notes out and brush up on the company facts. Try and commit your questions to memory. If you see one, grab a copy of any magazine published by the company and try and read something about press statements and company news to talk about if appropriate during the interview.

Another good trick is to scan the walls of the offices for any award certificates. They can be useful in your opening conversation.

How to start the first conversation

You meet, shake hands and then you are led to the interview room. The chances are you are probably met by the person who is interviewing you.

It is a good idea to have an opening conversation prepared for the walk between reception and the room as it can help to remove any awkward silences and get you off to a good start.

Some examples might include: “So, how long have you been working for XYZ?” or “I noticed you have been awarded an XYZ. You must be proud of that?”

You will find the interviewer may ask the inevitable “Did you have any trouble getting here? Always answer “No problem” then continue with one of your prepared questions. Don’t go into detail about your journey – it’s boring and they don’t really care. Switch it around so that they can talk about themselves and the company.

How to treat the interview like a sales meeting

Remember you are a product and as such you are offering a specific package of skills and experience, designed to be a ‘plug-in-and-play’ solution to a client’s requirements.

View your interview with potential clients as product sales meetings so during the interview you must quickly identify the client’s needs, then ‘pitch’ your own particular features and benefits that will meet those needs and help them.

Sitting back and offering a client a double-layer chocolate box of skills and experience in the hope that they’ll find a flavour they like is a high risk, hit-and-miss strategy. However, treating the client to an hour’s interrogation about what they are looking for will yield zero results.

Treat your interview like a professional sales pitch and your expertise like a product. Selling yourself is a process: you ask questions, define the client’s needs, explain your features and benefits and ask for the business.

There is nothing underhand about sales because there is a major difference between a salesperson and a ‘con artist’. The latter will try to cheat the customer. The former will use their skills to establish what the client is looking for and match their services to those needs. This is the way to secure a role and the next contract.

Get the preparation and approach right and by following these steps you will be in a good position to secure the contract role every time.

Comments [1]

  • Cara Brewer says:

    Freelancing is one of the popular work from home proposition for many. That’s a really appreciable work of yours to help them search their next client. I particularly liked the point you have mentioned about how to start the first conversation which I thought most freelancers have trouble doing.

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