How to Get Companies to Hire You as an Independent Contractor
By Cheryline Lawson
You may already possess a skill that you want to use to find work as an
Independent Contractor. You may also have the home office, computer,
software and the whole nine yards. So you are ready!! The news is
I say "almost," because ultimately, selling your work comes down to you.
I cannot do the work for you but I can impart my knowledge, selling
strategy and tips for you to use. "Be ready to be disappointed." I do
not say this to scare you but to warn you, that it won't be easy.
There is increasing awareness and use of the Internet, coupled with
increasing skill shortages in some places. Many companies now include a
job vacancy section on their web site and there are many recruiting
agencies and new electronic businesses on the rise. However, supply is
still greater than demand and that is why, you have to be a cut above
the rest. Most companies still prefer to hire people they can meet face
to face and to have them work at least some time at the company's
office, but you will continue to be the exception.
What kinds of companies?
In reality, the most obvious answer is, companies that:
Â„X Use computers and telecommunications intensively
Â„X Have customers in places where they don't have offices
Â„X Have embraced other flexible working hours
Â„X Employ a lot of self-starting, self-managing people
Â„X Have a strong online presence and progressive e-business strategies.
It is Possible!
Once you are established, the majority of your work will come from
repeat business and word of mouth recommendations. Until you are
established, though, you need to get your name in front of as many
people and business that you can. Most companies will send most of
their work to people they know- so that is why you have to do the
critical work of getting customers and developing strong relationships
THE YELLOW PAGES IS A GREAT PLACE TO START!!
Even at the beginning, you can do a lot by word of mouth. Unless you
have been out of the work force for a while, you can almost certainly
contact former employers and maybe quite a number of their suppliers and
customers or clients. You already know the name of the contact person,
addresses and the kind of work they do. This enables you to slant your
advertisements and selling letter to their particular needs.
Next, you have friends. Maybe some of them may need an occasional
typing done. If you are a member of a church or other organization, you
may be able to get the word out. These will be people you are already
When approaching any organization, the best system is to first find out
the name, job title and the address of the person who you should write
an inquiry letter to. Next, you should follow up your letter with a
phone call. Now let's look at specific individuals and organizations
how can (and almost certainly will) need people like you to work for
This is particularly useful for women who have left the work force to
look after their families. In all likelihood you parted from your
employer on good terms, and you have two great advantages: first, you
know the business, and second, they know you. You can even target the
specific areas in which you think they might need help. A telephone
call should be all you need to make the initial contact and while you
are asking, you may find out if your former employer knows of anyone
else that may be interested in your services.
Search a local newspaper, online newspaper or Job Bank. Contact the
companies that advertise for the skills that you possess. Let them know
that hiring a home worker is an option that they may want to consider
and sell yourself. Make your first contact by faxing your resume along
with a cover letter stating what you can bring to the company and how
you can increase productivity and lower cost by offering your services
as an Independent Contractor. Be sure to include your references so
that if the company has any doubts, they can call your references right
away before they contact you.
Other local businesses
Your next contact should be any other businesses that do the same sort
of thing as your former employer. Here, your "sales pitch" is simple.
You already know the line of business and he skills you developed with
your previous employer will benefit any other company as well. His
applies even if you have moved across the country: a small manufacturing
company in Maryland, for example, is likely to be run the same way as a
small manufacturing company in San Jose.
Once you have exhausted this line of approach, you should now try to
look outside your field of proven expertise, gradually widening the
circle. For example, from manufacturing, you might go to distribution,
wholesalers or even retailers, all in the same line of business. Then
you can expand into different kinds of business, from clothing
manufacturing to electronics manufacturing, from automobile distribution
to artists' materials distribution. Do you get the picture?
This might sound like a lot of work, but let me remind you or console
you, that his is pretty much a one-time effort. Once you have built
your clientele, and have made an outstanding first impression, you
should be able to get repeat business. Given the shortage of reliable
freelancers and the current business climate, you should be able to get
a good amount of clients early on in your efforts and these will sustain
you over the unresponsive parts of your efforts.
Voluntary and Charitable Organizations
Working with these is likely to be less rewarding financially, but
more rewarding in other ways. These organizations rely on volunteers
and free labor, so you may find it difficult to persuade them to pay at
all and when they do pay, they may pay very little.
On the other hand, they may be more likely to be flexible- they may be
happy to drop the work off and pick it back up, rather than expecting
you to come to them and there is quite often a team spirit within these
Many cities or county government offices may be hopelessly understaffed:
for example, parks and recreation authorities, public health clinics,
libraries and other local offices.
To find their addresses and phone numbers, look in the front page of
your local directory. Local government offices are usually given in
their own listing, before the main body of names and addresses.
These include hospitals, community and other colleges, private schools,
some theaters, sports complexes-the precise detail will depend on where
you live. The way to find out about these is through your local
Doctors and Dentists
Doctors and Dentists are one of the most overworked and understaffed
professions. A doctor or dentist may even be too busy to ask for help.
This is a fairly specialized field, so you must be able to learn medical
terminology, if you do not already know. These professions are also
highly confidential. You must prove trustworthy and responsible to be
able to land a gig here and of course, experience in the field is quite
As with doctors and dentists, absolute precision is essential in this
field. Getting into the legal field can be as difficult as getting
medical work. Experience and confidentiality is a great plus, but once
you are in, these professions can prove very profitable and most
dentist, doctors, and lawyers tend to know each other. So if you land
one, it becomes somewhat of a "gold mine." The word will certainly get
In any city of any size, there are always business and other fairs
throughout the year. The bigger the city, the more fairs. Your local
Chamber of Commerce can usually let you have a list of these fairs, and
if you go to them in person, you may be able to pick up a surprising
amount of business.
The great advantage of visiting these fairs is that you meet people face
to face. For small businesses, you will meet the principals and for
bigger businesses, you will meet the people who can give you the name
and address of the principal.
Many freelance photographers need someone to type their letters, follow
up with their clients, catalog their pictures and a great deal more.
They are more likely to be interested in someone who can offer a full
range of services.
Advertising agencies normally work on a boom or bust. In the boom
times, they always need help. It may well be worth approaching
advertising agencies and letting them know that you can offer a fast and
reliable service when they have bulk work. Of course, you can charge
handsomely for this project.
For preparing complex quotes, and for regular reminder letters to their
clients, you may be able to land a gig here as a typist.
Have you ever wondered who types up those descriptions of houses that
realtors hand out all the time?
Everyone thinks of doctors and dentists when you say "medical records"
-but animals have medical records too.
Most small businesses do continuous advertising in the general media but
for you this would be a waste of money and time. You should concentrate
on targeted advertising. If you are going to pay for advertising, it is
best to target it carefully so that people who might need your services
see it. In your ad, you also need to be specific about what you offer.
An example of targeted advertising might be in a magazine aimed at
authors or more generally in a local Chamber of Commerce publication
that will be seen by local businessmen.
The classified section of a business magazine may be the best place to
advertise your service. Or you may write an article on a subject that
is pertaining to the magazine. For example, if it is a health magazine
and you are a medical transcriber, you may write an article on "how to
lower your transcription cost." This would get a lot of attention
because everyone loves discounts and most of all this would be free
Advertising by mail
If you are advertising your skills as someone who is able to turn out
polished letters and resumes, it would seem reasonable that you should
be able to do a good job of writing a sales letter. Because this will
be a sample of your work, it must be on the best paper you can possibly
afford and it must be absolutely flawless in all sense of the word. No
grammatical errors, no white-out, absolutely no mistakes are acceptable.
Always address your letter to a specific person. This greatly reduces
the chance of your letter being discarded immediately as "junk mail."
Do your research before you construct a letter like this one. Call the
switchboard and find out the contact person. You can say something
like this to the operator or receptionists:
"Hi, my name is Jennifer Summer, and I am launching a medical
transcriptionist service. I want to send a letter to the person in your
company that may need this service. I know that it is possible that you
may not need this service now but I thought it would be useful to have
the information on file." No one has ever refused to give me a name
when I have asked. So don't be afraid. Just ask.
Advertising on the telephone
This is called "cold calling" and is an art. Cold calling is not
something that most people relish. To be honest, I don't but I do it
because I have to. Cold calling, however, gives you a better chance of
finding the right contact person. The mere fact that you are calling,
gives you an edge. This shows the employer that you are serious, a
go-getter and ready and willing to work. Secondly, it demonstrates your
willingness to take chances, knowing that you may face rejection. This
is a plus for you. However, be prepared for that rejection and handle
it with grace and then move on to the next person. It is not easy but
you will get over it soon enough.
During your follow up, be prepared. You will be asked some hard
questions. If you are asked who your other clients are, you can answer
truthfully in general terms or simply say you regard that as
confidential. Most employers respect confidentiality and privacy.
You may be asked to come in and bring your portfolio of work you have
done in the past. If you do not have any samples, prepare some sample
and put together in a nice folder of if you can afford, purchase a nice
The Yellow pages or Internet directories are good places to list your
services. Online Bulletin Boards and business cards are sophisticated
but clever ways to get noticed. You will be able to experiment with
these for free. A Web page is a great advertising tool and it does not
have to be fancy nor do you have to acquire any special designing
skills. There are software tools that will allow you to create a web
page as if you were using a word-processing program. Microsoft Front
Page will help you to do that. Although expensive, there is a trial
version that cost only $6.95 plus shipping cost. You will be able to
use it for 45 days. Go to http://microsoft.com and see for yourself.
This article is an excerpt from the book titled, "How to become and
Independent Contractor," authored by Cheryline Lawson. Ms. Lawson
writes and publishes electronic books on the Internet. Another book
that might be of interest to you is "How to find legitimate home
employment." To learn more visit her website at
http://internet-home-employment.net or send an email to
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