Freelance Writer Resumes? Um, no.

My friend (and RN2writer subscriber) Lizz asked me the other day if prospective clients ever ask me for a resume – because this had just happened to her.

My short answer is: No. I do not do resumes as a freelancer.

Well, to clarify, yes, prospective clients do ask me for a resume sometimes. But I don’t give them one.

To illustrate, I recently had a very amusing exchange with a prospect via LinkedIn that went something like this:

Prospect: We’re looking for a freelance writer to produce weekly blog posts for our health tech company. Is this something you do? Can you hop on a phone call with me? And please send me your resume.

Me: Yes, that’s exactly what I do. Thanks for getting in touch! I create custom proposals for every project, so before we jump on the phone, I’d appreciate it if you would fill out my creative brief. This will help me understand your needs better.

Prospect: Can you send me your resume? When can we chat?

Me: I don’t have a resume. You can learn everything you need to know about me at my website and on LinkedIn. As I said, I ask people to fill out my creative brief before I get on the phone. It helps me create a proposal for you.

Prospect: I don’t fill out forms.

Me: I sense from our conversation that we’re probably not a good fit for each other. I wish you much success finding the right writer!

Why Requesting a Resume is a Red Flag, to Me

This conversation contained many red flags for me, but let’s focus on the resume request – because that’s what Lizz asked about.

I want to start by saying other freelance writers take a different view about this subject than I do. They don’t necessarily see a resume request as a red flag.

But I do. Here’s why.

It tells me the prospect may be inexperienced in working with freelancers.

This can be problematic for several reasons. First of all, the prospect may be taking an “employer/employee” view of the relationship. They may be coming in with an expectation to specify when I perform the work, when I’m available to take their calls, etc.

Second, they also may not understand the procedural aspects of working with a contractor. For instance, they may not know that I need to submit a W9 form to their accounting department. They may not even understand we need to execute a bona fide contract in order for us to work together on their project.

All of these factors mean I may need to invest significant time into educating the client about the ins and outs of working with a contractor. And maybe I will be willing to invest that time. But maybe I won’t.

My point is simply that when a prospect asks me for a resume it alerts me to tread cautiously in the initial interactions so that I can suss out whether this opportunity is worth my time investment or not.

Back to the conversation above… The resume request, coupled with the other red flags (“I don’t fill out forms” !!), made me back away lickety-split. I always try to do so amicably. But I don’t waste time pursuing prospects that come across as unilateral or overly authoritarian.

And that is why I stay alert to red flags like resume requests: Because, as I keep saying, time is money when you’re a freelancer. So, the less time I waste cultivating prospects unlikely to pan out, the more time I can lavish on my existing clients – and on prospecting for new, good clients.

What’s your take on the resume issue? Have you ever been asked for one in your role as a freelance writer? What did you do?

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