01 December 2016
As a creative, digital, or marketing professional looking for a new job in today’s market, it can be difficult to decide which opportunities to apply for when each job board can yield upwards of 100 results. While you may need to filter your search in some way, there is definitely one type of opportunity that you don’t want to write off too quickly: freelancing. Why? Freelancing does more than expand your portfolio, and says more about you as a professional than you may realize. However, many make the mistake of not keeping an open mind about these opportunities in favor of finding a full-time role. “Despite the rise in demand for freelancers, many professionals are still hesitant to take on these opportunities due to some misconceptions about what freelancing entails,” says Ashley Hill, a Director within The Execu|Search Group’s Creative & Digital division. “Some of the job seekers I meet with aren’t aware that there is a wide range of positions, from per diem work to project-based assignments, which can suit a variety of lifestyles and goals. Others don’t realize that freelancing can be a stable, long-term career path that can be just as financially and professionally rewarding as more ‘traditional’ types of roles.” If you are still wondering if freelancing is the right move for your career, here are some of the ways it can help you… Diversify Your Portfolio: As a professional who works in a field driven by technology, you know the importance of keeping your skills up-to-date with the latest trends. For that reason alone, freelancing is a path worth exploring. Since many of these roles are project-based in nature, you have the opportunity to pick up new skills and diversify your experience with different platforms and programs in a relatively short amount of time. As an added bonus, you are able to try out different work environments and industries to evaluate what type of setting would be a longer-term fit for your individual needs and overall career goals. Develop A Strong Aptitude For Learning: When you freelance, there’s often little training or orientation at the start of the assignment; you’re hired to do the work because you have already proven yourself capable of hitting the ground running. Even if training is provided, it’s rare to find a freelance role that provides as thorough of a training program as a full-time role would. Therefore, having freelance work on your resume shows that you’ve likely learned a skill on your own time or picked it up quickly on the job, which is a great way to communicate that you’re a fast learner. Build An Extensive Network A hidden benefit to freelancing is that it gives you the ability to build a strong professional network. Since every assignment enables you to connect with new supervisors and peers, these colleagues can serve as references for any future opportunities or even help you land your next freelancing gig by connecting you with an employer in their network. On a related note, a recruiter is also a good ally to have in your corner when searching for freelance opportunities. Not only do they connect you with employers that could benefit from your expertise, but they also help ensure you have a new opportunity in line when your assignment ends. Highlight A Go-Getter Attitude: Regardless of your employment status, working as a freelancer can only improve your professional image. For instance, if you were unemployed while freelancing, it shows that you made good use of your time to sharpen your skills, gain experience, and stay relevant in your field. On the other hand, if your resume shows that you freelanced while working on a full-time or part-time basis, it helps demonstrate that you’ve gone the extra mile in your career and have a passion for your work. Get Your Foot In The Door: If your primary goal is to land a position with longevity, taking on freelance work can help you get your foot in the door. In today’s evolving market, more companies than ever are hiring on a temporary basis before bringing on an employee full-time. This type of hiring strategy allows both parties to evaluate fit before a longer term commitment is made, so you have the opportunity keep your options open until the right position comes along. In addition, many companies do extend contract positions if they have the need, while some employers will utilize a freelancer they had a good experience with for multiple projects a year.