by Mike O’Mary
December unemployment numbers will be reported on January 8, and recent weekly reports on unemployment claims indicate that things are getting better. But it’s still a tough economy out there. As of the end of November, U.S. unemployment was 10%, and underemployment (a freelance writer bagging groceries, for example) was 17.2%. Pretty grim.
If you are freelancing by choice, my hat is off to you. I know some people who have very successful freelance careers and would never consider going to work for someone else. But if you’re freelancing because you’ve been laid off, I have good news for you: freelancing just might be the best way to find your next job.
Twice in the past decade, I was offered (and I accepted) corporate jobs from my clients. So my tip for those of you who desire a corporate job is to offer up your services as a freelancer first. I believe this is actually a better way to get a job than competing with the dozens (or hundreds or sometimes even thousands) of people sending in resumes for job openings.
In the two cases where clients offered jobs to me, I went to the client with no ulterior motive. I really was not looking for a job. I was looking for freelance work. I didn’t want them to give me a job; I wanted to give them some help. That difference in attitude made a difference to them. And in both instances, there was a definite sense that they had discovered me…their attitude was almost a joyful “look what I found!” (Compare that to the attitude of a potential employer during a job interview where all-too-often they are looking for reasons not to hire you.)
Bottom line: Don’t mislead a potential employer. If you’re not interested in freelancing, then don’t present yourself as a potential freelancer. But if you are interested in freelancing – and if you are also interested in the possibility of a full-time job with the right employer – then marketing yourself as a freelancer just might be the best way to get your foot in the door to your next job.
Mike O’Mary is founding dreamer of Dream of Things, a book publisher and online community for writers and other artists.