You’ve just been named employee of the month. Hooray for you! Actually, when you’re a freelance medical writer or editor and you work for yourself, you are your own employee of the month EVERY month because there's no competition for the crown. The question is have you done all it takes to deserve that honor?
Clients who hire freelance medical communicators want them to know so much more than how to write or edit. On occasion, they ask us to interpret data, serve as project managers, and provide oversight and direction for the development of graphics and other forms of visual communication.
Woven throughout these myriad job responsibilities are the soft skills medical communicators need to prove they can wear these multiple hats and meet their clients’ expectations. The reality is when you cultivate these attributes and demonstrate them consistently, you enhance the value you bring to the table.
During this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, many of your clients are probably trying to figure out how to work from home. This is your opportunity to let clients know they can count on you to get things done while the rest of their team is still trying to figure it out. If you want to be a more valuable asset to your clients any time, and in particular, now, aim to be:
- Reliable and dependable. Companies reward people who show up for work on time, follow instructions, do their assigned work, and manage deadlines. Can you rely on yourself to do what it takes to operate, market, and grow your freelance business? Moreover, can clients rely on you to meet deadlines and complete tasks correctly, professionally, and to the highest standards of quality?
- Positive. Clients and colleagues prefer to work with people who are positive rather than those who are negative and pessimistic. If they think of Eeyore rather than Tigger when they interact with you, perhaps it’s time for an attitude adjustment.
- Efficient and productive. As freelancers, all you have to sell is your experience and your time. The more efficient you can be, the more productive you are and the more money you can make. In other words, you want to work smarter, not harder.
- Disciplined. A good employee stays on track and doesn't get distracted by the cell phone or cat photos on Facebook. If you're not disciplined and focused on work, you waste your employer's time and money. When you spend hours on Pinterest and Facebook during the freelance work day, you're wasting YOUR time and money.
- Dedicated. A dedicated employee consistently exceeds expectations and is willing to do whatever is required to ensure the company's success. In my experience the most successful freelancers are those who are dedicated to their businesses and who never hesitate to go the extra mile for their clients.
- Responsible. Succeeding as a freelancer requires you to take ownership of your business and its success or failure. You are the person to blame when things go wrong and the one to pat on the back when things go right. Only you can determine where your business is headed.
Of course, these characteristics don’t apply only to freelancers. Managers of medical writing teams look for these same traits in the employees they hire. These skills are one element in the package known as emotional intelligence, that ability to perceive, use, understand, and manage your emotions and the emotions of others.
It's not too late to name yourself April’s employee of the month. Perform an honest self-assessment to identify which of these traits you might be lacking, then develop a personal improvement plan. By incorporating these soft skills into your thinking and practicing them in your work, you'll increase your value to yourself and your clients.