Second guessing what the hiring manager wants is such a chore. Especially when you are new to the industry, you can only predict what is expected of you. Luckily, we interviewed more than 20 hiring managers from different industries so that you don’t have to!
While we can’t mention the exact businesses, the sampled demographic Included those recruiters that were in the IT, finance and logistics industries.
We found out there was quite an extensive list to be had, but ultimately, the most common traits sought out in freelancers boiled down to these few. While skill sets varied from industry and roles, these traits still retained priority throughout all 20 hiring managers. Without further ado, let’s get started!
Good in communication and feedback
The first thing hiring managers look for in freelancers is if they are good at making themselves clear and heard. It’s not about being loud or talkative, nor being a sweet-talker (though being polite never led anyone astray). It’s about making your intentions clear and communicating in a transparent manner.
Clear communication is needed between both parties when discussing matters concerning deadlines, KPI (Key performance indicators), your deliverables, etc. It is one of the most important but underrated aspects of the employer-gig worker relationship.
Many complaints I have heard from hiring managers usually involve horror stories of employers trying to contact their freelancers, without much success. A particularly bad case signed the contract, upped, and left without any notice.
Make sure to communicate thoroughly with the hiring manager your expectations of the workload, what you believe the task entails, and if needed, an extension to the deadline with genuine reasons if needed.
Here are common issues to be discussed when communicating expectations with your employer:
- What are my expected KPIs?
- Am I required to attend weekly work meetings to update the full-time team on my progress?
- What are the deadlines for my tasks?
- And particularly for creatives, how many times is the maximum for workload revisions?
Always ensure that you have a good grasp of what your employer wants from you before proceeding, as miscommunications tend to happen if expectations are not aligned.
Enthusiasm / willingness to learn
To the experienced hiring manager, lack of enthusiasm or interest in the role is quite the turn-off. Answering task-related questions with loads of “hmm”s, and “oh, I don’t know..” with no follow-up is either a sign that they’re not prepared for the interview, or are not interested in taking any action to remedy the cause. Both are cause for concern for hiring managers.
An experienced hiring manager will often look for signs of non-commitment in the other party even after the interview process. Arriving late to the consecutive interviews, constantly rescheduling meetings, taking more than a day to reply to the manager’s texts are considered big red flags. You would think you are trying to appear “like a busy professional who is constantly in high demand” but usually the trick backfires.
But then what do you do when faced with a task you are not familiar with during the interview process?
Make sure to emphasize that you are willing to learn or take up the responsibility for the task. A hiring manager mentioned, “ it was a tough call between freelancer A and freelancer B, they both had the same skill sets, the correct attitude, and showed enthusiasm, the only reason I took on freelancer A was when A did not know of the software we used, they immediately took out their mobile and googled it, and that is why I chose A instead.” Small acts of initiative may very well tip the scales in your favor.
Independent and a problem solver, not a problem maker
This trait is much more subtle and more nuanced than the other two. While hiring managers to appreciate that freelancers will approach them to ask for clarification and give feedback on their roles, or the tasks themselves, you should not always expect them to have the answer on hand.
Sometimes, when you take up the task, you happen to be the one most knowledgeable about the task instead of the hiring manager, and it would be better for you to voice out suggestions on how to solve the problem.
Sometimes problems can also be blown out of proportion when we hyper-fixate on our own tasks. When you find yourself overwhelmed, try to take a step back and look at it from a different perspective, chances are the solution to the problem will come to you naturally. Your employer will also be especially thankful as well.
Knowing why you are doing your job
This aspect goes beyond just knowing what you have to do in your role, it also encompasses knowing why you are there, and why your role exists. Typical freelancers will think of it as any regular side stint, finish up their tasks and leave. Amazing freelancers will understand the purpose of their role and can come up with suggestions on how to improve the task at hand/ their own role within the company.
For example, let us go back to unidentified freelancer A and freelancer B again. Both are photographers. Freelancer A understands that the company hired them to create photo collages for wedding shoots. They do an excellent job of compiling the photos, then call it a day.
Now, have a look at freelancer B, they understand that their role is not about the simple task of creating photos, but instead, their role is to help make memorable moments for the wedding groom and bride.
Now, bearing that in mind, they can then work together with the couple to better discern what the couple wants in a photoshoot and work together to get the desired effect, which will ultimately lead to a happier wedding couple and a job well done from person B.
Generous in sharing knowledge
Refrain from thinking of other freelancers as competitors. Good freelancers are willing to coach and mentor those around them, regardless of their status. They do not hold important knowledge from other freelancers in order to “one-up” others. Chances are, the other party will be willing to share knowledge of their own and in the end, both parties have gained something valuable as well.
If you combine these traits along with the required skill sets, you will become one of the most desired freelancers in your specialized field. Opportunities don’t happen, you create them. Create your opportunity now!