Sometimes You Don’t Know You’re Fired

freelance jobs how to lose a freelance jobby Joe Wallace.

I fired my tax preparer today. He doesn’t know he’s been fired yet. He’ll probably never know unless he looks in his database someday and realizes that I didn’t come back at tax time in 2010.

Why did I fire my tax guy? I discovered he filed my 2008 taxes using an old address even after I specifically said at the start of our 2008 tax prep conversation that I’d moved. Simple mistake, anyone could make it. Is that reason enough to give him the axe? No, not really.

But when I called his office to straighten things out, not only did I not get a call back the same day, I didn’t get a call back PERIOD. And taxes are far too important to doink around with. If the professional you’ve hired to do the job can’t get a simple detail right or at least get in touch to reassure you he’s working it, it’s time to move on and find someone who will instill the trust you expect.

It’s the same in the freelance world. Sometimes you’ll never know you got fired. When you blow the simple things–like a call to the editor to update them on a critical piece or just to let them know you might miss deadline a tiny bit–you run the risk of crossing them at a bad moment when they’re more likely to forgive but not forget.

And in some cases, that equals “We don’t hire you again.”

Want to avoid getting fired without knowing it? Here are some simple strategies.

  • Keep the boss in the loop. Don’t make anyone guess about the status of your current project. Give them updates when it’s in your best interest to do so.
  • Show progress. Even if you have no progress to offer, you can always show you’re being proactive by letting the client know you’re doing follow up that day or revising the material, something. ANYthing.
  • Offer to do something more. If the project is simply stalled and can’t move forward without some crucial part you don’t have any control over, offer to do something in the meantime as fill-in.
  • Be available. Don’t disappear while you’re waiting for an issue to resolve itself. Make yourself easy to contact and make it easy to respond. (This is where iPhone e-mail is a huge plus in my book).
  • And finally, when you can move the wheels of progress forward again, move them without delay. No procrastination allowed!