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How To Get The Interview | 3 Lessons From A Freelancer

Photo by Nik MacMillan on Unsplash

As a freelancer, I’ve had dozens of interviews.

When I first started freelancing, I plowed through one-off jobs like “write a 1,000 word article on email marketing”. This meant that I was consistently talking to new clients and trying to land the job.

As my freelancing business has matured, I’m no longer applying to one-off jobs, I’m applying to the ones that will make a monumental difference in my business.

Recently, I reached out to two well-known entrepreneurs in my industry and I was able to land two interviews (!!!).

Each was a cold-pitch that I hoped would intrigue them and most importantly—neither had open positions that suited my skill set. I just told them what I knew was valuable and hoped it was something they needed right now.

And it worked.

Here are the lessons I incorporated to land my interviews.

#1: Figure Out What Problem You’ll Solve For Them

Every person, whether they are in business or not, has a problem that could be solved by another person. This is the reason businesses exist—consumers buy from companies so they can solve one of their problems. Need a better business communication tool? Buy Slack. Need to be able to make cereal for the kids in the morning? Buy milk. Everybody has a problem and everybody needs somebody else to solve it for them.

In the case of applying fora job, the business you’re applying to has a problem. It’s your job to figure out what that problem actually is. For example, if they are hiring for a Social Media Manager, you’d reverse engineer the problem they are trying to solve. For example:

A company in need of a social media manager needs somebody to curate and schedule content that their customers and avatars (prospective customers) want to interact with. So, is their problem needing to curate and schedule content?

No.

Let’s go a layer deeper. A company who needs more people to interact with their content, wants more customers. Now we’re getting somewhere.

When you apply for the job, yes—you want to show your expertise as a social media manager, but you also need to showcase how you’re going to be able to get them more customers. Growing an Instagram following at your last job as a social media manager is great, but how many of those people were able to convert to customers?

Show that stat in your application and you’ll get a call back.

#2: Break The Pattern

Recently, one of my smaller clients hired me to look through 80 job applications for a position they had for a writer. I was thrilled to take the job. This would mean that I could see what other writers’ resumes looked like. While these writers were all newer, less experienced writers, I was excited to see how they were crafting their cover letters and resumes.

What I found was that 95% of the applicants were carbon copies of the other. I could easily skim a resume and figure out that a person wasn’t qualified for the job and/or didn’t have intentions to do great work—just by SKIMMING their resume.

What were all of these people doing wrong?

They didn’t break the pattern.

I could go from one application to another and within a few minutes, figure out that these applicants didn’t have what it took to do great work for my client. The problem was in the applicant’s choice to look exactly like everybody else.

As a job applicant, you need to break the pattern of all of the other resumes a recruiter, hiring manager, or CEO are reading over.

In the case of my applications, I spent 3 hours creating applications that would stand out. My first application was an online form, that asked me questions like:

“How are you qualified for this role?”

“What is your education history?”

“Tell us more about yourself?”

The role was a position that I had the option to create on my own. My application ended up being a little under 2,000 words and each word was crafted to break the pattern. I didn’t want somebody to read my resume and say, “just another writer.” I wanted them to stop and say, “Wait, who is this?”.

Figure out how to break the pattern of the person who is reading your resume and you’ll sky rocket your chances of getting the job.

#3: Don’t Expect Them To Find You

While reading through the 80 applications for the job writing position my client had open, I realized how easy it would be for a busy CEO to only look at the first page of applicants and if somebody was ‘good enough’ just hire them.

People are busy and expecting them to look through 80 applicants to find your stand-out, problem solving article is a bold move.

This lesson comes with the disclaimer that you can’t be too pushy, and because every situation is different, you’ll have to define pushy for yourself.

If you just applied for a job, don’t sit and wait for them to reach back out to you. Follow those people on Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn and figure out how you can open a conversation that would lead you to telling them that you just applied for the job.

In my case, I sent in my applications and then watched the entrepreneurs’ Instagram stories and recent podcast interviews to see if there was an open door somewhere.

Where you look, it will appear.

One entrepreneur created a story about their hiring positions on Instagram. I took the opportunity to DM him and tell him that I had applied online, and gave him a jist of my resume. He replied saying that he’d read my application soon, and a few days later we had an in-person one-hour interview.

The other entrepreneur was featured on a podcast where he gave his email address out at the end. I immediately emailed him talking about how I enjoyed the podcast, what I specifically liked about it, and then asked if he needed content writing help. He replied to my email, asked for more examples of my work, and a few days later, we had a Zoom interview in the calendar.

While applying for a job requires that you have the skill set necessary to do it well—it also requires that you’re strategical about how you apply. There could be dozens (if not 80) other applicants vying for the same role and it’s your job, before landing the job, to get noticed.

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