"I haven't found a job yet and someone advised me to try freelancing to build up my experince. Isn't that just job-hunt masochism? If I can't get one job, why should I be able to get half a dozen instead?"
Geeta raised a smile from everyone with this question, along with simultaneous nods and frowns. It does seem a tad counter-intuitive, doesn't it? Never the less, freelancing can be great to get you out of a hole, build up some experience and make yourself much more employable when your dream job comes along.
In fact, the bar for getting temporary work is usually set lower than that for a permanent role, so it's easier to find an in, provided that you're determined.
Obviously you could take up freelancing as a permanent business or as a way to earn a living, but we'll look here at the situation where it might be useful to you on a short-term basis, until you can find the full-time job you want.
How can you use freelancing?
You never know what will turn up. You might just stumble upon a great job / organisation that you really click with and get a permanent-staff job offer out of it. Employers always prefer to take on a known individual so, wherever you work and under whatever circumstances, smile and shine as much as you can. Apart from that, use freelancing to help with the following:
Neaten up the work history section on your CV. Show your last x months of 'unemployment' as a continuous period of 'Freelancing'. This only works if you've had, perhaps several, shortish bouts of temporary or part-time working, here and there.
If so, you don't have to account for every job and every minute in between on your CV, you can collectively draw all of your experiences together, summarise them under that magical 'Freelance work' banner and selectively show your relevant experiences . It makes for a very neat CV and it appears as though you've been proceeding with a structured plan when you do finally get to talk to a prospective permanent employer.
Just remember to make it clear on your applications for a proper job that you are chasing a permanent position and the freelancing is only an interim solution. Otherwise, employers can be put off by someone they see as a 'roamer' and worry whether full-time permanent work would really suit you.
Add to your experience. Having several short-term project-work type jobs is a great way to get around and add a whole raft of different experiences. On the way in to an assignment, yes you have to deliver what the employer wants, but have in mind what you want out of it also.
Always be on the look-out for any extra-responsibility opportunities. Take on the tasks that no-one else wants to do - your manager will always be grateful and you'll earn brownie points and better references as a result.
Build your confidence. Being unemployed for several months can be mentally sapping, even though you may be an active job-hunter. Having periods of work, even scattered short ones, will help build your confidence. When you get that sniff at a real job, at least you'll have more of an idea what will be expected of you and will be able to carry the interview better.
Make sure to talk about your recent work experiences on application and at interview. Make sure to show what experience you gain, what you achieved and what benefit you might have provided to the employer. You'll also be showing your initiative in building up that experience and showing what a proactive individual you are.
How do you get work as a freelancer?
Pitch your expectations correctly. As a full-time, experienced freelancer, depending upon your field, earnings could be very good. However, as a newbie, with little experience already behind you, and working sporadically to gain experience, you won't be able to negotiate high rates and may have to be very unselective about assignments you take. Since you see this as a short-term solution only, taking any work at virtually any pay is probably better than hanging out for a decent rate.
Network like crazy! Tell absolutely everyone what you're doing, what you're looking for and ask if they know where might have some work for you.
When I say everyone, I mean everyone: the person who's just issued your parking ticket; the person feeding an IV drip into your arm after a road accident; the people lowering your dead granny into the ground on ropes. Don't forget the vicar, catch him / her after the proceedings have finished though. Sounds nuts? Hey, vicars know a lot of people :)
The point is to be determined and relentless. Some people do those jobs whilst you're reading this - get up off your … chair and hunt their organisations down.
Re-vamp your online presence. Tidy everything up and focus your accounts on what you're trying to do now. Consider setting up a small website and / or an appropriate blog. Everything you do should shout focus, professionalism and determination. Look at who else does the same as you're trying to do and copy what they do by way of activities and maintaining a presence.
Register with relevant agencies. These should be appropriate to your field and you should find as many as possible. When you've made contact with a suitable agent, make sure to build a strong bond with them through regular contact. Keep them updated with additional experience, as you get it.
Directly target assignments. Determine the type of job that you are undoubtedly eligible for and then target organisations likely to offer those roles every so often. Make contact with the relevant people and ask if there are, or will be soon, any opportunities to help with temporary, part-time or project work.
You may get referred to the HR department. That's fine, work that contact as hard as you're able but don’t stop there. HR is only one strand, find other individual people online and try to link up with them on social media.
Department managers, supervisors or staff working on similar roles to the one you want are all relevant. Get well known and milk them for every last drop of inside information you can (nicely!). Get as many lines into the organisations you target as you can and work them hard.
When an opportunity does arise, make sure yours is the first name someone thinks of, and they at least tip you the wink. Bear in mind, if they're already comfortable with you, you may be the only person they bother to invite in. It's cliché time - better the devil you know - and it's faster and cheaper than waiting to advertise. Perfect!
People want problems solved today - be that solution!
Bear in mind you may need to get advice on tax, accounting and insurance issues. There are whole terabytes of information on those subjects available via the web for free, but the cost won't be great even if you have to approach a professional.
The work, and the approach needed to get it are not for everyone. However, if you've got nothing else to do just do it! You have nothing to lose, everything to gain and the experience will be invaluable for the whole of the rest of your career. No one can ever say you don't have balls.
Remember - if you don't ask, you don't get! (If you like this article and got some value out of it, please send me money to help fund the cost of this free website which supports those in need. A £5 or even £10 donation would be fantastic, or just buy my book.) - There you go, just like that :)
Good luck, get stuck right in there, give it hell and don't stop until you get what you want!
Keywords: freelance, freelancing, freelance work, direct targeting, networking, work experience, work history, CV, job application, interview, online