Empowering the Freelance Economy

Every freelancer needs an arsenal of stories to tell

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Whether you are interviewing with a recruiter to land your next contract or you are running solo and trying to land that amazing new client, there’s a secret to becoming the most memorable applicant, according to careers site, Welcome to the Jungle.

Those who make an impression don’t necessarily have an exceptional career path or a list of qualities. The ones who make an impression are those who know how to tell the best stories, said the report.

If you want to make a connection with a client or recruiter, what better way to do that than to present them with the oldest form of sharing: storytelling. They may soon forget that they don’t approve of your shoe choice or how you’ve fixed your hair. When your stories are personal, they are an extremely powerful means of communication and they keep people focuses on what’s most important: you.

So how do you employ your best anecdotes in an interview or meeting with a potential client? And how do you tell them so well that you grab the attention of the recruiter?

Here are some highlights and tips from the report:

Highlight your strengths with anecdotes

Every freelancer or contractor will put on their CV or profile that they are hardworking, creative and have an analytical mind. So, how are you supposed to stick out since there’s a good chance other applicants will have put down something similar? Anyway, if you don’t have examples to back up those are just words.

You can prove your worth by telling a personal story of how you used those qualities to achieve a goal. It could be a story from your childhood, a personal accomplishment completely outside your career, or why you went freelance in the first place and how you have consistently made your clients look good.

Connect with the recruiter or client

Telling a personal story is also a good way to get closer to the person you are talking to. 

Welcome to the Jungle offered this example: “For a long time, I would manage to slip in the story of my ‘marathon from hell’ in Asia, in 30°C weather, wearing a pair of Stan Smith trainers,” said Christophe, a marketing manager. 

“I would exaggerate a bit and play up the humour to lighten the mood. It obviously let me show that I’m not afraid of challenges. But, above all, it helps me to create a bond with the recruiter. There are so many marathon runners and Sunday joggers out there. I have a 90% chance of hitting the bull’s eye. It’s a bit like saying, ‘I love Blackadder, Johnny English or Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’. It brings people together.”

Anecdotes can be your second chance to make a lasting impression

First impressions are formed quickly, some within a few seconds of the initial contact. Telling an anecdote can help you to override the image you may be projecting if that is what you want. “When I was a student, I used to work as a cleaner for companies at night,” said Bastien, a financial controller. “I often share this experience to show that, beyond the image of the ‘confident guy in a suit’, I am also humble and I know what it’s like to get up at 4AM to clean toilets.”

What are the ingredients of a good story?

A good story triggers the production of two hormones: cortisol (alertness, curiosity) and oxytocin (feel-good vibes and empathy) A good story grabs the attention of the person you are talking to and creates a connection with them. You need the listener to emotionally connect to your story on some level and want to hear more. Suspense even in a personal anecdote is possible.

Law of proximity

The law of proximity used in storytelling will highlight something close by, such as location, emotion or time.

A story related to your interview

A good anecdote should reflect a value, a moral or a message that is relevant to the job for which you are applying, said Welcome to the Jungle. But it should also be in line with the company’s culture, which you should have studied prior to your meeting. Read company reports, news releases and company blogs to prepare. What do they value?

A story that makes you look good

To make a recruiter remember you, but not at any cost, you should avoid racy anecdotes, which are rarely appreciated, and politics. And if your story highlights a failure you experienced, remember to emphasise the lessons you learned from it.

Understand your audience

If you know the name of the person who will be conducting the interview, take a look at their LinkedIn profile to see if there are any areas you have in common with them.

Itching for more tips? Read the full Welcome to the Jungle report here.

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1 Comment
  1. Nick Woodward says

    Great article and it’s so true. As an employer I want to know who the person is behind the stock standard CV and how their story fits in with my company culture and our story. Having been on both sides of the fence as a freelancer and an employer, I know how daunting it can be to apply for so many jobs and get knocked back, usually without even an acknowledgement for sending your CV.

    I don’t think I have ever been approached directly by a candidate or a recruiter with a personal story about why a prospective employee wants to come and work for our company and why they believe that hiring them would be the start of a long and mutually rewarding relationship.

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