Recently, I was asked whether it’s worth freelancing between employed jobs, for example, if you’re struggling to get hired. Do interviewers view freelancing as a positive when hiring for permanent jobs, or does it make no different? So, let’s take a look at whether it’s worth doing some freelance work between job contracts.
What do you gain by freelancing?
First, it’s worth considering what you’ll gain by freelancing, not just the effect it might have on an interviewer. There are many things you can gain from freelancing, such as:
- Money: At the very least, you can bring in some income to pay your bills and keep you going until you find another job contract.
- Stay fresh: Freelancing helps you keep your mind active and your skills fresh while you’re not working, rather than getting rusty and finding you’re not up to date with the latest skills.
- Contacts: Through freelancing, you can build a network of contacts who might have access to or know about jobs or opportunities you hadn’t found. Or you might freelance for a client who decides to hire you for a permanent job.
- Skills: Freelancing enables you to develop new skills and knowledge. For example, you’ll develop the ability to work directly with clients, find your own work, solve problems, and manage your own time and workload. You might even gain skills you couldn’t have gained through your current line of work.
- Gap avoidance: Freelancing can provide a way to avoid having a gap on your CV, which might be looked upon more favourably by recruiters than just sitting at home and doing nothing when you don’t have a job.
- Pitch and win: In learning to successfully pitch for freelance jobs, you get to know your own skills, abilities, and personal qualities—and how to win clients. This which means you should be much better at writing job applications for permanent jobs.
What’s more, you might realise you actually prefer freelancing and decide to become a full-time freelancer, rather than applying for employed jobs.
What are the downsides?
There can be some negatives involved in freelancing between jobs, for example:
- Patience: Freelancing requires a lot of patience. It’s not an overnight thing, so if you’re looking for a quick way to earn some money between jobs, it’s probably not the best method. Instead, going to a temp agency might yield better results.
- Learning curve: Becoming a freelancer involves a fairly steep learning curve as you figure out where and how to market yourself, how to pitch for clients, and how to compete against more established freelancers. In other words, it’s not easy at first, which might not be ideal if you need to focus on applying for permanent jobs.
- Time: To succeed at freelancing, it takes considerable time an effort—and that’s time you’re not spending on permanent job applications. If your aim is to quickly get back into employed work, freelancing might hinder your chances by taking up time you could be applying for jobs.
What do interviewers think about freelancing?
When it comes to interviews, it really depends on the individual whether they see freelancing as a positive or not. I’ve seen a range of views on freelancing, such as:
- Some interviewers only value employed work and aren’t interested in your freelance work.
- Others are impressed that you took the initiative to find alternative work.
- Some are just pleased to see that there isn’t a gap in your CV.
- Others still see freelancing as a gap where you couldn’t get an employed job.
- Some may actually be more likely to hire you because freelancing gave you varied experience and additional skills.
Basically, you can’t really predict how the interviewer will react to your freelancing experience, but hopefully most interviewers see at least some value in freelancing between jobs.
What can freelancing do for you?
When I wanted to switch from HR to publishing, the only way I could get my foot in the door was doing freelance work to develop my editing skills. Ultimately, that’s what got me a job working for a publishing company. The interviewers were impressed that I’d found a way to gain experience without having an employed job, and it showed my passion for the work because I was willing to do it at evenings and on weekends on top of a full-time job.
In short, freelancing can be the answer until you gain your next job, and it can help you gain your dream job, but you have to put in the time and effort for it to yield results.
What do you think about freelancing between jobs? Have you done it? Comment below or get in touch.