The freelancer’s quick job hunting guide – Part 1

February 24, 2011 by Dean Rieck
Filed under: Freelancing 

job hunting for freelancersI’ve been a freelance copywriter for so long, I’ve forgotten what it’s like to have a “real” job.

Early on, when freelancing was new and mysterious, I continued to entertain the possibility of full-time work. I even went on interviews now and then.

I haven’t thought about looking for a job for years, but I’ve recently learned that some of the freelancers I know have thrown in the towel and re-entered the rat race. Why?

Maybe they got tired of chasing clients. Or perhaps they needed regular cash flow, paid benefits, or a more social work environment. Maybe they just got burned out, since freelancing, while a wonderful way of life, isn’t for everyone.

I listed some of the pros and cons of full-time vs. freelance copywriting last April.

Whatever the reason, this news got me thinking that while I generally talk about how to get into freelancing, it might be a good idea to talk about an exit plan.

So how do you get back into the workforce when you’ve been freelancing for a while?

First, let’s look at some of the challenges and a few things you can do to lay the groundwork for any future job hunt.

Job Hunting Challenges for Freelancers

Finding a full-time job is always a challenge. But for freelancers, it can be doubly challenging.

For one thing, you probably don’t fit the ideal candidate profile. As a freelancer, you haven’t been following a set career path, so there are some gaps in your resume.

Then there are the negative stereotypes of freelancers, viewed by some as “between jobs” or lacking in discipline.

And surprisingly, your skill and expertise may even work against you if others in the company resent your success or see you as a threat.

However, despite these challenges, you also have the advantage of knowing you can make a living on your own, which gives you the confidence to hold out for the right job. Plus, you have the know-how to sell, which puts you a step ahead of every other candidate. After all, getting a job is basically about selling yourself to an employer.

3 Things Every Freelancer Should Do

Whether you see freelancing as a lifetime commitment or a temporary adventure, there are certain things you should do all the time. They will help you find greater success at freelancing and can help prepare you for the possibility of job hunting in the future.

Track your accomplishments. From day one, I’ve kept meticulous records. I have backed up all my computer files for each job; maintained a complete list of every client and product I’ve worked with; assembled extensive samples, testimonials, and success stories; and have contact records and references going back nearly two decades.

Imagine having all that information at your fingertips when you’re writing a resume or interviewing for a full-time position.

Stay connected and visible. In the old days, this meant picking up the phone or showing up at industry events. Today, it can also mean having a presence on LinkedIn, writing a popular blog, publishing your own e-newsletter, hosting webinars, and getting involved in social media such as Twitter.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a vast network of connections as a freelancer or as a job hunter. It takes time to build up a valuable network, so it’s something you can’t put off until the last minute.

Give back and be helpful. If people hear from you only when you want something from them, they’ll come to dread hearing from you. But if you prove to be a generous professional who’s ready to help others, your connections will come to like and admire you. And they’ll be there when you need help from them. It’s an investment in good will.

A while back, a client told me she was no longer employed with her company and wondered if I might write a cover letter for her. She had always been fun to work with and generous with her time, so I was happy to return the favor. I don’t keep score on things like this, but I’m sure if I ever needed her help with something, she’d be there for me.

Next time, I’ll share some commonsense tips for how to use your freelance expertise to set yourself apart from other job hunters and land the job you really want.

Related posts:

  1. The freelancer’s quick job hunting guide – Part 2
  2. Can freelancers REALLY make 6 figures a year?
  3. 11 quick ways to kickstart your slow freelance business
  4. The Art of Zen Copywriting – Part 1
  5. The Art of Zen Copywriting – Part 2

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Smart Comments

3 Comments on The freelancer’s quick job hunting guide – Part 1

  1. Stacey Mathis on Feb 24th, 2011 9:37 pm
  2. Giving back and being helpful go a long way and can serve you well when you are back in the market for a job. Make a note of birthdays or people’s special interests and hobbies. If you read an article or see something they might be interested in, send them the URL link with a little note, etc. People tend to remember your kindnesses even when you’ve forgotten your gestures.

  3. Dean Rieck on Feb 24th, 2011 10:06 pm
  4. Stacey,
    Yes. So much depends on relationships.

  5. Codrut Turcanu on Apr 5th, 2011 2:50 am
  6. Give back and be helpful should be the standard. I think people nowadays should sell less, and serve more.

    P.S. You need super high visibility if you want to land clients and make more money. Blog commenting and guest blog posting are two very effective and efficient methods, if done right.