Take control of the narrative of your career by identifying the desirable skills you’ve developed as a freelancer and communicating them during your interview.
At some point during your freelance career, you may come across a fantastic full-time opportunity you think is perfect for you. Lucky for you, your freelance experience is a goldmine of transferable skills.
So how should you talk about your this experience during the interview?
The truth is that people freelance for many different reasons. Some freelance as a full-time occupation. Others use freelance work to support themselves during their job search. And still others freelance part-time for income while they’re working on side projects like startups, artistic ventures or public interest opportunities (or vice versa).
Whatever your reasons for freelancing, several valuable skills come with the territory. So examine your experience and take control of the narrative of your career. Identify the skills you’ve developed that are desirable to potential employers and plan how to communicate those main points during your interview.
To help you get started, here’s a list of transferable skills that many people develop through freelancing:
You know how to drum up business
If you’ve freelanced, you’ve probably put yourself out there to find and secure clients. Through your experience in drumming up business, you have learned how to size up a potential client, figure out what they’re looking for and explain to them how you will deliver exactly what they want. You know how to market. You know how to sell.
Furthermore, you know how to handle rejection and have developed resilience to it. One little rejection doesn’t derail you, because you know not to take it personally, and you know from experience that the more people you ask, the more likely you are to hear “yes.” You roll with the punches, get back up and keep selling until you’re booked.
You understand the importance of maintaining strong customer relationships
Freelancers learn through firsthand experience that keeping a regular client is much more cost-effective than securing a new one. They know how important it is to keep clients and customers happy. They know that the number one rule is to listen.
To potential employers, the fact that you truly understand that maintaining strong customer relationships is key to keeping good business, and have experience doing so, makes you a real keeper.
You’re an independent self-starter
Potential employers can count on you to be an independent self-starter because you’re used to motivating yourself without anyone having to keep an eye on you. Freelancers live the motto “You eat what you kill.” Simply put, if freelancers don’t find and satisfy their own clients, they don’t get paid. If they sit on their laurels, they’re toast.
As a freelancer, you’re also likely to generate ideas independently. This is because you have probably executed on some of your own ideas to get your freelance business going. Think about the ideas that were game changers in your freelance career, and be ready to talk about how you put them in motion.
You have a suite of extra skills
Freelancing often means that you are a one-person business. Distinguish yourself from other candidates by talking about the additional skills you gained by running a business.
Strategy? Check. Marketing? Check. Production? Check. Customer service? Check. R&D? Check. Financials? Check.
Find ways to add these specific skills to your resume and relate how they can be useful to potential employers.
Freelancers have business vision and are able to look at situations and make them profitable. Think about it: when you became a freelancer, you looked at your unique situation, saw what you had to offer and monetized it. You probably worked with a limited budget and had to get creative. When it comes to creating value through use of limited resources, you’re an expert.
What this means for potential employers is that you think, strategize, create and come out with more than you started with. You have the ability to make the most of what is there, whether it’s for yourself or for an employer.
By now, you’ve probably thought of some transferable skills and selling points for your interview that you had sitting in your back pocket all along. Write them down, keep adding to the list and be ready to communicate them during your interview.
Remember, going through an interview is similar to speaking with potential clients. It’s about figuring out what they’re looking for and explaining how you will give it to them. So think about what you really have to offer. Chances are your freelance experience has made it possible for you to give more than you realized.
Christine Arce-Yee is a freelance marketer and writer. Check out her tweets at @christine_ay and her blog posts at www.christinearceyee.com.