Do you have what it takes to be a top freelance construction professional? Are you looking for a job and you want to know the essential skills clients look for?
Being a freelance professional in the construction industry can be overwhelming at times. For one, it is not always clear what clients want in a freelancer. And without proper career coaching, you could spend weeks or months trying to get the right client.
For this article, freelancer refers to interim, consultant, contractor, sole trader, and people who have a side job since the commonality that brings this diverse group together is their pursuit for freedom and self-determination.
Here at Survehub, we believe that in line with the future of work trends, freelancing will become the norm. We share ten qualities that every freelance construction professional must-have to increase your chance of success. But first, let’s understand who is considered a freelance building professional.
Who is a Freelance Construction Professional?
A freelancer’s primary duty is to solve problems, work on agreed tasks, perform analyses, write reports, and participate in project activities with other experienced professionals.
Even if you are not an employee, clients still expect you to have some capabilities that are essential to all professionals irrespective of their employment status.
In the past, clients used to hire freelancers to do “a bit of everything” on simple job descriptions, or in some cases, verbal instruction. Today, things are changing, with the devastating effects of the Covid19 pandemic on businesses, compounded with Brexit and the introduction of off-payroll rules (IR35) in the UK from April 2021.
But there is a shortage of skills of construction professionals to meet the rising demand for new housing and satisfy the growth ambitions of the UK the construction industry. Clients are now looking for specialist skills to complement their in-house capabilities to maintain their competitive edge.
Here are the 10 Essential Qualities of a Freelance Construction Professional
1. Solve Your Client’s Problems
The right freelancer must be a problem solver. To become an effective problem solver, you must be able to think on your feet; using your lateral and critical thinking to solve problems in creative ways. That means being able to notice patterns and abnormalities. Problem-solving is about using your logic and imagination first to analyse a given problem and develop sound solutions and recommendations to that problem. What’s more, solving the problem this way allows you to spot future issues proactively prevent or mitigate their impact on your project – and ultimately your client.
Anyone who has experience in construction understands that construction is about problem-solving. That’s what quality control is about – identifying defects and fixing them early. Whether it is defects or other issues, your client wants to know that you can identify and solve problems.
Besides, clients will always need problem solver within their teams – it’s that simple.
2. Get Involved, Be a Team Player
As a freelancer, you may develop the tendency to become a loner. But in this digital era with video communication at an all-time high, now clients require more productivity and contact than ever before. The team-based nature of construction projects means that you’ll still work closely with other professionals, sometimes with different skills.
Clients are quite open about wanting team players. Just saying “I’m a team player” will not work unless you demonstrate your statement with facts.
So, there’s no way around it; you must be a team player if you want to be trusted by your clients.
3. Be Enthusiastic about Your Client’s Objectives
Your enthusiasm must be the direct result of your actions and intentions. It is challenging for you to be enthusiastic when you have no tangible accomplishments. Instead, it would be best if you wanted to motivate yourself to deliver good project results for your client.
Here the word ‘want’ is vital. It has to be something you want very much to accomplish, as opposed to a project you must complete to get by.
Don’t make the mistake of trying to impress clients with your experience of past projects, ignoring specific requirements of the task at hand. While it’s admirable that you’ve many projects under your belt, you run the risk of being a useless freelancer if you don’t quickly demonstrate your familiarity with the fundamental aspects of your client’s project.
No matter how impressive your profile is, clients will think twice before hiring you if you don’t demonstrate your enthusiasm.
4. Be Willing to Learn
The built environment is continuously changing and evolving. There’s no guarantee that the skills you possess today will be relevant or valuable tomorrow. For that reason, you must develop your existing skills or acquire new skills to adapt to the fast-changing environment. Clients want to hire freelancers who can add value to their business, so it’s in your best interest to adopt a growth mindset by learning new skills.
Your willingness to learn ties in with your enthusiasm since learning is the only way to survive in the construction industry.
5. Manage Your Time, Well
Working as a freelancer means that you’ll have milestones to hit, and deliverables to submit. Clients will come to you for urgent projects, and you can rest assured that the pressure will be on you to deliver. Hence you must learn to schedule tasks and manage your time adequately to meet project milestones.
Good time management translates to confidence. It allows you to give early warnings when faced with an unexpected change in circumstances.
6. Communicate By Listening Well
A project can only be a success when the delivery team is on the same page, having worked toward the achievement of a definite set of objectives. Project success cannot happen without constant and effective communication. To be a good communicator, we suggest you practice skilful listening, that means hear more of what people have to say to you. Next, you must pay attention and take notes while listening to keep key ideas or concerns. And finally observe people you communicate with by their posture, tone of voice, writing style and more.
When you work on-site, communication flows naturally, but it’s a lot harder when you work as remotely. If you lack good communication skills, get coaching immediately, or you stay away from remote jobs where communication is critical.
Good communication pays, in your business, social or personal life.
7. Work Smarter, Not Harder
No one likes to see an exhausted person at work. Clients look for smart freelancers who can help them succeed; not people who explain how hard they work. If you can meet deadlines through efficiency, by all means, go for it.
8. See the Bigger Picture
As a construction professional, you often get lost in the details or section of a project you are working on. You get carried away and forget other aspects of the project. You need to resist the temptation to work in a silo and remember what the client aims to achieve.
Your ability to see the grander scheme of things helps you observe and improve your teamwork. If you understand this, you will go far in your freelance career.
9. The Devil Is In The Detail, so Pay Attention
The devil is in the detail. What does this phrase mean to you? It merely means that your success as a freelance professional depends for the most part in your ability to notice and uncover errors, to leave no stone unturned. The fewer errors found in your work, the more valuable you are as a freelancer.
Clients look for diligence and talent; so incorporate these two qualities in your delivery for immediate success.
10. Be Professional, at All Times
Too much focus on your technical skills may diminish other aspects of your career. A key element you must pay attention to is your professionalism. Especially when you are self-employed, you need to present yourself in a way that makes clients take you seriously.
Observe some leaders in the industry- what is their dress code? Style of communication? Relationship with clients? Why did they become trusted advisors to their clients?
Here are some other tips that can improve your professional outlook:
- Deliver excellent work
- Be assertive but fair
- Recognise that you may be wrong sometimes
- Always think win-win
We have given you the ten qualities clients look for in a freelance construction professional, and we are confident that you’ll have no problem landing your dream freelance job.
Register Now to find trusted clients. Here at Survehub, we make it easy for organisations to hire construction professionals locally or remotely in a faster, convenient, and transparent way. What’s more, our robust matchmaking process ensures we match client needs with the best possible talent – at a predictable cost. Learn more about how Survehub works or see our Knowledge Base.