Many job seekers are encountering a new reality in the market: Many employers are no longer filling open slots with full-time workers. Instead, they are turning in increasing number to freelance and short-term workers to complete certain jobs. This can be a challenge, but motivated professionals can turn the situation into an opportunity if they know how to mine the freelance job market.
Jeff Leventhal and Jeff Wald, co-founders of Work Market (https://www.workmarket.com/), an enterprise platform and marketplace for finding and managing freelance labor, suggest the following tips to help job seekers find freelance work:
1. Make it easy for the company to hire you. In the case of a freelancer, this involves a bit more effort than someone seeking a traditional job. While a typical job seeker needs to make a clear connection between the job and his or her skills, desirable freelancers also need to consider companies' needs to classify them as freelance talent. Leventhal explains: "As bigger corporations are increasingly turning to freelancers, they're also highly vigilant about worker misclassification. For example, they do not want freelancers appearing to be traditional employees when it comes to insurance and taxes."
Companies need to prove that they haven't misclassified you, so Wald suggests you assist the employer. "Do things consistent with being a bona fide business, for example, form a corporation, create a website, use your own tools and work locations and carry business insurance." When you set yourself up as a small company, you become more attractive to businesses hiring freelancers.
You can certainly put these items in place very inexpensively, although it doesn't hurt to invest in professional help to get your website set up if you're planning to run your business for the long term. In many states, it is relatively inexpensive and simple to set up a limited liability company (LLC) or another form of a business entity. Consider turning to resources such as the Small Business Association (http://www.sba.gov/content/score), which provides information useful for anyone planning to create a small business.
2. Manage risks. Most large companies will require freelancers to have general and professional liability insurance to work for them. "For example, job site accidents are something every company fears," Leventhal says. "Stand out from the crowd by showing you're aware of the insurance nuances and have proactively taken steps to take the risk off of a potential employer."
3. Influence what people find when they Google your name. This is key for traditional and freelance job seekers; before people hire you, they will Google your name. If they find nothing but a mention from three years ago of the charity golf tournament you co-chaired, they will not be impressed. Make an effort to create a strong social media presence that demonstrates your skills and accomplishments and helps verify that you are suitable for the positions you seek. As a bonus, when you create a professional online footprint, you'll expand your network of people who may be willing to refer you for opportunities to work.
4. Get reviews. Make a point to collect endorsements and recommendations. If you use a platform to source work, be sure to tap into its review mechanism. Also, ask for recommendations and endorsements on LinkedIn. "From the simple five-star rating to more complex quality metrics, be sure data about your performance is routinely being captured and recorded for people to read," Wald says.
5. Seek repeat business. Referrals are your best and easiest way to land gigs. "With the majority of our clients, we see companies who seek their existing freelancers for future assignments," Leventhal says. Consider every job a long interview for the next opportunity. It's much easier to land your next project from the company where you're freelancing than it is to roll off and start pounding the pavement for the next opportunity. "As a freelancer, you have a huge opportunity to find additional work once you get your initial foot in the door," Wald says.
Miriam Salpeter is a job search and social media consultant, career coach, author, speaker, resume writer, and owner of Keppie Careers. She is author of Social Networking for Career Success and 100 Conversations for Career Success. Miriam teaches job seekers and entrepreneurs how to incorporate social media tools along with traditional strategies to reach their goals.