The View From Inside: Lessons I Learned as a Hiring Manager

Alisa BonsignoreWay back when, in my past life, I hired freelancers. And even though I’ve been on both sides of the fence, I have a funny habit of forgetting the lessons that I learned when I was on the inside.

In November, I attended a medical writers’ conference in Milwaukee, and listened to a presentation given by a hiring manager, telling freelancers what they needed to know about getting and keeping the client. And I was stunned by how much of it I already knew, but had somehow managed to forget.

We got talking after the session, and she said, “Why aren’t you teaching this session? You’ve been on both sides of the fence.”

It was as if the cartoon light bulb went off over my head. So now, I present to you the things that I learned when I was on the inside; the conference speaker validated all of these points.

1.      If I’ve taken the time to call you, I already like you. This isn’t the time for the hard sell about skills and capabilities. At this point, I’m looking for compatibility and trying to assess reliability. Be yourself.

2.      If I ask you about something outside your skill set, please tell me. Remember: I already like you. I’d rather have our first project be the right project than learn of your shortcomings midway through.

3.      I would rather have you cold email than cold call.

a.       Email: I can review your credentials at my leisure and file them away for when I need someone with your skill set.

b.      Call: I rarely answer my phone if I don’t recognize the number, simply because I don’t want the distraction if it’s not work-critical. If I do answer the phone, I put up conversational barriers because I don’t want to give false hope to someone that I haven’t investigated or vetted.

4.      “Don’t call us, we’ll call you,” means exactly that: don’t call. I had one prospective freelancer who called monthly. “I appreciate your interest,” I said, “and I’ll call you if the right project comes along.” After six months of these calls, I was certain that there was no project in which I would want to work with this person.

5.      Know your value. I’m very reluctant to work with someone who quotes bargain rates. Right or wrong, I assume that the person is less experienced than they claim to be.

6.      If you have questions about the project, gather several in an email so that your client has a list to work from. Don’t contact the client half a dozen times a day with random inquiries.

7.      Please, please, please respect your deadlines. If there are any delays from your end, notify the client immediately, not on deadline day.

Are there any others that you can think of?

By day, you can find Alisa clarifying complex ideas, helping medical, high tech and healthcare IT companies speak to their customers in a voice that they understand. By night, she raises a preschooler, trains for half marathons with Team in Training, and writes for

One thought on “The View From Inside: Lessons I Learned as a Hiring Manager

  1. Lisa Lehman

    I have an addition: Please heed instructions. I recently hired a photographer for an all-day “day-in-the-life” shoot. I specifically told her not to take photos in a certain location on the premises (which she ignored) and gave detailed instructions on content (also ignored). I was not satisfied with the results and neither was my client. As a freelancer, you have to listen to your client. If you have suggestions, please offer them up before doing the work.