Working for yourself is all fun and games, until you want to get insoles from a podiatrist and the whole thing costs $1400.
I love self-employment, but I acknowledge the downsides. Maybe you’re sick of the lack of stability, or lack of benefits, or you only wanted to freelance temporarily. Maybe you thought self-employment would free you from workplace drama, only to realize workplace drama is actually the best part of having a job (oh, how I miss the water cooler gossip). Or maybe you’re just ready for a change. According to an informal Twitter poll of 159 respondents, almost 60% of freelancers were looking for full-time work, either actively or passively.
You don’t have to defend your choices to me. If you’re an independent contractor looking to switch to full-time work, I have good news. It can be done—and right now could be a great time to do it. Indeed, recent job reports have shown strong growth in full-time jobs, and evidence suggests it’s actually freelancing that’s becoming more competitive, as more people make the jump into contractor work. I feel good about your chances of finding a full-time job—especially if you take these tips:
Assess Your Skills
If you’ve been freelancing for years, you’ve likely learned a ton. However, it might take you a second to figure out exactly what that ton is. Take the time to assess your freelance work and identify the skills you developed. Consider the type of work you want to pursue in a full-time position. Then, check if those job descriptions align with your experience. The nice thing about freelancing is that you get to try so many different things. Therefore, you can likely make the case for why you’re qualified for a wide range of positions. Except, you have to be ready to make that case. Which brings me to…
Focus on People
As you transition into full-time work, remember to maintain a positive reputation in your freelance community. You’ll need them to vouch for you as you pitch yourself. Be professional in your interactions, deliver on your commitments to existing clients, and consider providing referrals or transitioning ongoing projects to other freelancers if needed.
Don’t forget to prep for interviews—this is a people-skill, too, and one that may have gotten rusty, depending on how long you’ve been freelancing. Be ready to discuss your freelance experience in detail, including how you managed multiple projects, handled deadlines, and collaborated with clients. Prepare examples that demonstrate your problem-solving abilities and your ability to work independently as well as part of a team.
Update Your Resume and Cover Letter
Resume and cover letters are key. Craft a persuasive cover letter that explains your motivation for transitioning into full-time work. “Be prepared to provide a solid answer for why you’re looking to make the switch from freelancing to full-time work,” says Yuliya Mykhaylovska, Early Careers Talent Expert. “The pandemic and subsequent world events have led folks to re-evaluate work, so it’s perfectly normal to want to switch, but you must give a convincing answer that shows you’re in it for the long-term. Highlight the common threads in your freelancing work, combining diverse projects under an organized umbrella, to weave a narrative that you are focused, dependable, and creative.” You have a story to tell, and your cover letter is the place to tell it.
Also, tailor your resume to highlight your relevant skills, experiences, and accomplishments. Make sure you have a summary statement to explain your career to someone not familiar with self-employment. You can never be too careful—it’s the first impression you make on potential employers.
Get The Word Out
If you’ve been freelancing for years, former colleagues may have no idea that you want a full-time job. So, tell them. Reach out to colleagues, clients, and industry contacts to inquire about job openings or potential referrals. And grow that network, too. Attend industry events, join online communities, and participate in networking platforms to expand your connections and uncover job leads.
The internet is your friend. It’s also your enemy, in many ways, but that’s okay—it contains multitudes. Take advantage of it’s more useful parts by using it to showcase your freelance projects, client testimonials, and any notable results. Update your portfolio with your best work samples, demonstrating your expertise and the value you can bring to potential employers.
It pays to be dogged. “Be okay with cold-calling, cold-emailing, or cold-approaching people to ask for advice and/or see who they are connected to,” says Dr. Dar-Wei Chen, a cognitive engineer and human factors specialist. “The worst thing that happens is they don’t respond or that they don’t know how to help you, but a lot of people will actually be flattered that you sought them out. Also, send out as many messages as you can, because it doesn’t really matter how many non-responses or bad responses you get. You just need one hit to start getting a foot in the door.”
You might not find your dream full-time job right away. “Starting at an entry-level position is a good way to start—you’ll be surprised at how often organizations need people to do random things or hold events where anyone can show up,” says Chen. “You’ll also be surprised at the connections that people have, even at a low-level version of your dream job.”
Temporary or contract-to-hire roles can be an effective way to transition from freelancing to full-time employment. These positions allow you to demonstrate your skills and work ethic while giving employers the opportunity to assess your fit within the organization. You may also learn that the only way into a new industry is through a very low-paying internship, which may mean you need to keep some of your existing freelance jobs. That’s okay—it can take time to change careers fully, so be flexible about how the transition looks.
You’re at an exciting juncture, and when you get that full-time job, report back and tell us how the healthcare is. If you take these tips and practice patience as you hunt for a new position, I have confidence you’ll be wearing affordable insoles in no time.