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Hypothetically, if I saw a full-time job I would be a perfect fit for, would it be ethical/effective to apply and later explain that I'm only interested in working as a freelancer? Assuming the answer is yes, when is the best time to reveal this information?

This is different from Can I sell/solicit my services by applying to regular job positions? because my question is asking about the ethics and effectiveness of doing so.

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Ethical? Yes. Effective? Probably not. When a company has made the decision to hire a full time employee and told a manager to find one, that manager rarely will accept a contractor. The person who can change that decision is above that manager. When you enter the process through the full time employee hiring process, it is hard to break through and talk to the person who can change that decision.

Another tactic is to wait a few months and then contact the top person of that company. Many times, a new employee does not work out. If you can catch the decision maker between the time that they realize that things are not working out and the time that they start looking for another FTE, you might have a better chance to sell your services.

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  • That's an interesting strategy. In my experience, the majority of interviews have a stage—a late stage, often the last—where you talk to someone high-level. In startups, this can be the CEO. Assuming you'll be able to talk to someone higher than the hiring manager, does that change your answer? It still feels smarmy to get to the end of the interview process and say, "Gotcha! I don't want to be a FTE after all." (Paraphrasing) May 5 at 19:57
  • If the "hiring manager" doesn't have the authority to hire, but someone higher up has to approve, then that higher up is the real "hiring manager". I still doubt that you will be effective in going through that process. It would be far better to contact the CEO directly and make the case to bring you in instead of going through the manager.
    – David R
    May 5 at 20:47
  • For my thorough understanding, can you explain why that would be better? May 5 at 21:01
  • 1
    You always want to sell to as high of a level as you can. Let them tell the lower manager to take you on. Managers have to live within a budget. The top people set the budget and have the power to change it. So, the top people can choose to bring in a consultant / freelancer when a manager can't. When you sell to the CEO, you can ask for a lot higher price than when selling to a manager.
    – David R
    May 5 at 22:29

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