Advice for Would-Be Job Seekers

Our company was featured recently in The Boston Globe Careers section. Or, more accurately, I was misrepresented in an article here. Not in a terrible way. But if you read the article and know The Hired Pens, you know that:

a)   I haven’t worked 40 hours in a single week in approximately two years. My exact quote was, “Since Leo was born I feel like I have become so much more efficient with my time that I get 40 hours’ worth of work done in two-and-a-half days.”

b)   The company was described as “virtual.” It’s not. Sure, we let our writers work at home, but we actually have a real honest-to-goodness office with a real waiting room with real magazines and everything.

c)   We don’t actually have any “employees,” as the caption noted. We have contractors we hire on a project-by-project basis. Yes, this is a small point of differentiation, but worth making because …

We keep getting resumes from people asking us if we have open positions and wondering about benefits, etc.

So, yes, this seemed like a good time to clear that up and explain how we run our company. A few years ago, we realized we had neither the time nor the expertise to handle the wide range of projects now coming our way. But since we are both greedy opportunists, we hated to turn work away.

We thought, “Hey, just because we’re not smart enough to know what they heck an enterprise-ready API management solution is doesn’t mean someone else isn’t.” So we began dedicating ourselves to identifying some good people who did.

The writers we’ve found have a remarkable amount in common even though they have such different specialties.

  1. They are (already) damn good at what they do. While we love the enthusiasm of junior writers, we don’t have time to train them. The writers we like to work with are senior-level and require zero handholding. You know, unless they want to take us for a romantic walk or something.
  2. “No problem” is their favorite expression. Our deadlines are often hardcore and sudden. And our clients can be really demanding. It’s stressful. Our writers know that while they were hired to make our clients happy, their secret job is to make us happy. Or at least make us feel like we can confidently back away from the cliff because they are there.
  3. They know no middle ground. Nothing is worse than finding a writer you love and having them leave you for a full-time job. That’s why our writers either don’t want a full-time job or are total workaholics for whom 40 hours of a full-time job is just not enough.

Finally, a few more do’s and don’ts before you get in touch.

Do specialize. It’s overwhelming when we ask you what kind of writing you do and you say “Everything.” While you may have in fact done “everything” at some point in your writing career, surely there are one or two things you are best at. That’s what we want to hire you for.

Do get personal. We keep getting emails that start with “Dear Sir or Madam.” Really? You couldn’t be bothered to look at our site long enough to write “Dear Dan and Anna”? This doesn’t give us a lot of faith.

Don’t ask us how much you should charge. Even if you’re flexible on rates, know the industry standard and throw out a number that reflects your level or expertise. Otherwise we’d be happy to pay you $2/hour.

Don’t be so stiff. We like to work with people we like. So make us like you in your email. We can’t say how. This would be kind of like asking someone to tell you that you’re pretty and then have them say, “You look pretty.” It just wouldn’t mean as much.

In closing, we feel really lucky to already have such an amazing team of writers, but projects and writers do come and go. So if we haven’t scared or turned you off with this post, we’d love to hear from you.

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