Freelancing: Friend or foe?

A recent Fast Company article on the current state of the freelance job market revealed, at least in the eyes of this media outlet, that “working for one’s self used to be the definition of the American dream – and, apparently, it still is.”

The article reports on the Freelancing in America 2018 study, which concluded that “Americans’ increasingly prefer to work where they want, when they want, and on the work of their choosing.” One in three American workers freelances, and 61 per cent of freelancers said they’ve chosen to work this way versus working in staff jobs more by necessity. Millennials are leading the pack. Forty-two percent of of 18-to-34-year-olds now freelance, up from 38 per cent in 2014.

The study results make seem as if freelancers are eating their cake and having it too. It reports that full-time freelancers are 21 percentage points more likely to say their work also allows them to live the lifestyle they want (84 per cent of freelancers say this versus 63 per cent of non-freelancers).

Freelance, resume, job, career

This paints a rosy picture of freelancing as one’s primary form of employment, which appears to be coveted by younger workers. But what the researchers don’t seem to ask is what about the labour market has made freelancing float to the top? And, has it become more common by choice or necessity?

According to Forbes, the driving forces behind the freelance job economy are becoming more prevalent. These include education not meeting the skills that employers need, using “gig” workers to reduce employment costs (freelancers are often paid low wages and do not receive health benefits), and bringing freelancers in to meet short-term project needs. The availability of communications technologies that support freelancers is making the growth in this job category possible.

Twitter also responded by highlighting the complex issues at the heart of the study results, while also calling out Fast Company’s use of the word “deciding” in the headline. For example, @RevEricAtcheson explained some of the reasons that freelancing is a necessity, not a decision, for some. He said:

“Deciding to freelance” sure is a funny way of spelling “navigating a job market that has eliminated pensions, affordable health insurance, cost-of-living raises, and many other trappings of steady employment our parents and grandparents benefited from for decades.”

Freelance, career, resume, cover letter, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation

That said, freelancing has other pros and cons that should be considered. It can be a way for people to generate an income for their side hustles. Or, freelance work could allow a person to gain experience and references in a new industry as a stepping stone to a career shift, while still working full-time elsewhere to make a living. Saving time, energy and money on a daily commute by working as a remote freelancer might be a perk for some people, while others might miss being around colleagues on a daily basis.

So, although freelancing’s attributes are a good fit for some people, for others it’s likely done out of necessity if a full-time position, along with its security and relatively higher pay level, can’t be obtained.

What are your thoughts on the growth of the freelance job market? If you’re a freelancer, what advice would you give to others? Share in the comments.

Image credits: Pixabay.com; Twitter.com.

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey

Should I start my career with an internship?

Internships are very topical right now. Last week, Bank of Canada head honcho Stephen Poloz recommended that unemployed young Canadians should take on unpaid internships to gain experience in their professional fields. The fact that top government officials accept that unpaid work is the only way to get ahead indicates that internships have become commonplace in today’s economy. Further, the competition to actually get an internship – paid or unpaid – is fierce.

Therefore, it doesn’t seem like internships will be going away anytime soon. From the job hunter’s perspective, an internship, paid or unpaid, is a means to an end. The ultimate goal of an internship is to put you in a more competitive position as you launch your career.

I had two internships in the early days of my career, both of which were paid or associated with an educational program. Although I was not paid great sums by any means, I had the benefit of living at home and also was a part-time server to help balance the books.

I’m of two minds when it comes to internships. First, I know from experience that taking on an intern role is one of the best ways to get a start in your career. Internships can provide some key benefits. For me, they were:

  • I learned how to cut it in a nine-to-five job and began to cultivate my professional identity
  • With broad exposure to many different activities, I learned in leaps and bounds about marketing, communications and advertising, and also determined what I liked to do
  • I made connections with smart and successful people, many of whom I’m still connected to today
  • I learned how to work with senior leadership and executives, including VPs and presidents
  • Having internships on my resume demonstrated I was eager to learn, willing to try new things and could take initiative

At the same time, it can be difficult to take on full-time unpaid work. Some ways to make an internship realistic include the following:

  • Plan ahead – To help save money before taking on an internship, I first took on full-time work outside of my career field so that I could squirrel away some savings.
  • Academic internships – An internship associated with an academic program can help you apply what’s learned in university or college. Your school may also help you find the internship, giving you a competitive edge in the job hunt.
  • Working part-time – Consider a combination of paid and unpaid roles while completing an internship. For example, being a server in the evenings or on weekends helped to supplement my income.

Do you have any other tips for making an internship role realistic? Share in the comments.

Image credit: Pixabay.com.

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey

How to highlight transferable skills on your resume

Post 1 photoLet’s get to the bottom of why laundry lists should stay in the laundry room, rather than on your resume.

Have you ever seen a professional resume that listed someone’s entire work history? If so, you probably got distracted or confused by irrelevant employment or volunteer experience, rather than clearly understanding if the person was a good fit for the specific job they applied for.

Even if scooping ice cream, restocking books at the library or dog walking are among the recent jobs you’ve had, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should include them alongside the relevant experience on your resume if you’re looking for a job in a different industry.

One way to figure out if you should include a job or volunteer role on your resume is to consider the relevant transferable skills you gained while working in it. For example, if you were a server in the past, did you wait tables for two months while backpacking in a foreign country? Or, did you work at one establishment for an extended period of time, increasing your responsibility by leading shifts or locking the doors at the end of the night? The latter scenario is ideal to include on your resume. It would be an opportunity to convey to a potential employer that you have valuable transferable skills and abilities, like leadership, managing others, dedication to succeeding in a job, and being responsible and trustworthy.

The key to understand the transferable skills and abilities that you’ve gained in previous roles that are required in the job you want, and then, clearly highlighting them on your resume. If the skills you gained in a past job don’t match up, get rid of the role that doesn’t relate. Don’t put past roles on your resume just to create a laundry list of every job you’ve had.

You might need to get creative if removing the irrelevant experience from your resume leaves gaps in your employment timeline. If this is the case for you, consider adding headers like “Relevant Experience,” which includes the roles in which you have gained skills related to the job in question, and “Other Experience” for everything else. This structure demonstrates that you’ve been employed consistently over the years.

What tips do you have for highlighting relevant transferable skills on a resume? Share in the comments.

Image credits: Pixabay.com, Flickr.com.