Our traditional ideas of what work looks like are changing rapidly. Increasingly, job seekers are getting creative with their career aspirations and taking matters into their own hands.
Instead of going on interview after interview looking for that full-time dream job, many are opting for freelance, temporary work, and contract or consulting positions to stave off unemployment.
Some eventually re-enter the traditional workforce, but others become successful enough to sustain their own entrepreneurial ventures.
Being a “solopreneur” isn’t for everyone, so consider the following before taking the plunge into this arena:
- Are you self- motivated? If you’re working for yourself, the only one driving the train to project completion is you. Although being your own boss can be a very attractive arrangement, many professionals in this situation report working more hours for themselves than they did when they worked for an outside organization. On the plus side, working for yourself usually yields more schedule flexibility than a traditional 9-5 office job offers.
- Do you have sales skills? You will no longer have an in-house sales, business development, and marketing department, but these tasks must still be accomplished to win new clients and additional work. Selling is a difficult skill to master, so figure out what your plan will be for bringing in new work and having a steady stream of business to keep income coming in on a regular basis.
- Are your skills marketable? Some career fields lend themselves to freelance and contract work better than others. If your area of expertise is in a niche area that can’t easily be outsourced by a bigger organization, you may have a tougher time winning work and convincing prospective clients to utilize your services. It’s not a deal breaker, per se, but you need to know what you’re getting into before you take the plunge.
- Do you know what you don’t know? We can’t be experts in all facets of running a business, so it’s wise to build a group of trusted advisors to assist you in certain areas. This may include consulting with an attorney, an accountant, and a variety of other business advisors to ensure that your new venture will operate legally and effectively.
If you determine that being totally on your own job-wise isn’t the best choice for you, consider some of the opportunities available for working as a temporary employee.
- Some job seekers are hesitant to accept temporary assignments because they are concerned if they commit to something short-term, they will miss out on opportunities for full-time assignments. This may be a bit short-sighted because many employers are now using staffing agencies (and sometimes internal recruiters) to “try before they buy” job candidates. In many cases, short-term assignments are being extended and even becoming full-time opportunities for some workers.
- If you’re offered a temp job, ask some questions. Find out from the person hiring for the position whether there is a chance the initial period of performance could be extended. Also find out if the employer has converted temporary placements to full-time hires in the past.
- Determine if an interim assignment is better than no assignment at all. If you’re currently unemployed, determine if this assignment could give you some valuable income and also help build your resume. If you can answer “yes” to both of these items, it might be worth accepting the assignment. If you do a good job, you may also be able to obtain a reference for future employers.
- Find out if the employer is flexible. If your ultimate goal is finding full-time employment, ask the hiring manager if you’ll be able to have some flexibility with your hours should an interview come up. Many temporary assignments don’t have paid time-off, but you need to ensure that taking off an hour or two during your assignment won’t be looked on unfavorably.
- Do your homework about the company. Find out the types of people whom this company hires for full-time opportunities and assess whether or not your skills are a good fit. If there seems to be a legitimate career path, a temporary assignment could be an opportunity to get your foot in the door.
- If the opportunity is legitimately short-term, stay in touch with the person who placed you in the assignment before the job ends. There may be another temporary assignment available that you can be placed in so you don’t have a lapse in employment. If your performance has been exemplary in one temp assignment, a staffing agency is more likely to place you again on another job.
No one cares more about your career than you do, so take the time to figure out what type of working arrangement works best for you and pursue that with fierce ambition. Hard work really does pay off.
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About Amanda Haddaway
Amanda Haddaway is a recognized career expert and leader in the human resources field, as well as being an accomplished writer and marketing practitioner. She has been quoted in numerous national publications for her HR and marketing expertise and has written two books, “Destination Real World: Success after graduation for new and soon-to-be college graduates,” and “Interviewer Success: Become a great interviewer in less than one hour.”
Over the past 14 years, Haddaway has worked in many facets of human resources and marketing, including recruiting, training, employee communications, corporate compliance, social media, and advertising campaign development. She currently serves as the director of human resources and marketing for Folcomer Equipment Corporation, a multi-state construction equipment dealership.
Prior to her employment at Folcomer Equipment, Haddaway worked for SRA International, a Fortune 100 Best Company to Work For.
Haddaway holds a master’s degree from The George Washington University and a bachelor’s degree from James Madison University.