One of my colleagues at EVG recently posed a question to me: “What do you think are the common traits of successful contract writers and editors?” During the six plus years that I have been with EVG, I’ve had the pleasure of working with many talented writers and editors, so the answer was on the tip of my tongue. However, it wasn’t simply a few quick one-word descriptions. Rather than rattle off the short version, I sat down at my desk to write this article.
In answering my colleague’s question, I thought of six traits that I feel every successful candidate has in common. These qualities can increase the success rate of the project and, more importantly, the overall satisfaction of our client.
Six Traits of Successful Contractors
Sometimes we know the start date for a project, and sometimes the project has to be delayed for whatever reasons. Life happens, even for our
clients. Adaptability is a trait that serves us well as we manage changed circumstances.
2. Willingness to get your hands dirty
Think all you’ll need to know about the project will be covered in the 45-minute training session? Nope. Most of the projects we take on have a steep learning curve, and sometimes you’ll have to submit a few pieces multiple times before you get it “just right” in the client’s eyes.
Will you decide to bail before the project even gets up and running? Or will you decide to give it that extra effort on the front end in order to have a great chance to work on future projects with the client? Getting your hands dirty, learning what’s required and hanging in there through the difficult first phrases are essential with any project.
3. Attention to detail
Yes, that style guide really is 31 pages long. Which means the client expects you to write in a very specific style in order to be approved for publication. There are reasons by every project spec, but numero uno: It’s what the client wants.
The way we differentiate ourselves from the competition is by caring about the details and going the extra mile for our clients.
Regardless of the size or duration of a project, communication is key. If your project manager expects you to supply your portion of the project by a certain date and you have not communicated why this hasn’t happened, it puts a huge wrench in the process and can endanger the overall success of the entire project. Open communication between writer, editor and project manager is a must.
Having your child’s 15-member play group in the same room while you’re conducting a stakeholder interview doesn’t exactly strike a professional chord. Professionalism means conducting yourself in a manner in which you competently provide a skill or service in an organized, timely fashion.
6. Openness to feedback
By the nature of the role, contract writers are used to sliding onto a project, doing their thing, and saying goodbye when their part of the work is wrapped up. On the contrary, the contractors we typically work with at EVG show concern about the follow-up and often touch base with us after the project to make sure that everything was received well by our clients. They are open to critique and eager to hear feedback, even when it isn’t stellar. Actually, SPECIFICALLY when isn’t stellar.
Contractors who possess this trait are the type we want on our teams – they learn from constructive feedback, they are keen on improving and they care about doing a great job.
Martha Bowen – Human Resources Manager