Working Wednesdays: Picking the right client (or job)

We’ve all been there or some form or another – after sitting down with someone to talk about potential work, the offer comes through. But is it the right offer? Should I take it?

In some cases you jive with your potential client (or boss) and there’s no hesitation.

But in many cases, there is that pause. Maybe it’s because the offer isn’t enticing enough – but often it’s because some nagging voice in the back of your head is whispering that it’s not the right fit. I’ve made that mistake – both in my freelance career and the corporate world – enough times to know that I should follow my instincts and decline the opportunity.

As you find your footing in a new venture, like freelancing, it’s tempting to take any work that comes your way. But there’s a danger in this – you might pick up something that becomes toxic, you may burn through a lot of time on projects that can’t be used in a portfolio, or you may end up generally unhappy with the work you agreed to.

So how do you avoid picking up the wrong clients or taking the wrong job offer?

These are the questions that I ask myself, and if the answers to any of these questions are no, then I decline:

  • Is this the right type of working environment for me? I know myself well enough to know that I like a fast-paced, start-up environment where I wear many hats. But if the organization isn’t operationally sound, I don’t do well.
  • Does my work philosophy align with the company’s?
  • Are there open communications across teams and with the person I report to?
  • Do I like the type of work that’s being offered?
  • Will this help me grow professionally and/or add to my portfolio?
  • Do I think the compensation is fair for the type of work I’d be doing?
  • Can I work remotely? If I have to be in an office for part of the time, can I handle the commute?

Because my husband and I are both building up our businesses as contractors/freelancers, we both occasionally get tempted by positions that have good pay. When either of us feels like there’s hesitation, we refocus on looking at both short-term and long-term goals to prevent ourselves from making that emotional decision.

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