It’s been years. You gladly left formal employment, and you’ve been working as a freelancer. But now, you’re having second thoughts. Wouldn’t it be nice to have just one boss instead of a stable of clients who all act as if they think you should treat them as your only client? As for your finances, it would be nice to know how much your take-home pay will be every month. Getting a loan means jumping through hoops when you don’t have payslips, and having a bit of extra job security certainly would help you to sleep better at night. A return to formal employment seems attractive, but you’re out of touch with job hunting and you don’t even have a resume. It’s time to do some catching up! Here’s what you need to do when reentering the job market as an employee after freelancing.
1. Resume Ready
There’s no getting around it. You’re going to need that resume builder and a look into your employment history. But what if you’ve been freelancing for a decade or more? Your more recent experience will be of the most interest to recruiters, so seeing your clients as “employers” and your freelancing experience as a way to showcase your skills can help. Always consider the post you’re applying for and look for relevance. Unless you’re moving in a completely different direction, the work you did as a freelancer is likely to have at least some bearing on the type of post you’re applying for. If it doesn’t seem to, dig a little deeper. Did you demonstrate good time management? Were you able to communicate effectively with your clients? These simple-seeming skills could demonstrate your value as an employee.
2. Pitch Like a Pro
Opting for formal employment after being a freelancer may seem like a complete change of focus, but when it comes down to basics, a job application is just another pitch, and you have plenty of experience at that! What are the top selling points that bring you, customers? They’re likely to be the same qualities employers will value in a more formal relationship. Whatever qualities these are, provide examples and offer proof.
3. Show That you Can Work as Part of a Team
Generally speaking, having been a freelancer shouldn’t be a disadvantage when trying to land formal employment. However, HR may be concerned that you’re a “lone wolf” who won’t operate well within a business hierarchy. Show how you worked with others to achieve results. Demonstrate how you react to criticism. For most freelancers, this will already be second nature. Most of us will keep working until the client is satisfied with the results. If we think they’re on the wrong track, we may explain why we think one option is better than another, but at the end of the day, we deliver to spec – no matter what that spec is. Is this different from an employer-employee relationship? Not really!
4. Demonstrate your Work Ethic
While most reasonable people realise that the average freelancer works very hard indeed, there’s still the dressing-gown-wearing, work-when-I-feel-like-it stereotype to overcome. And let’s be honest, there will always be folks who use “freelancing” as a euphemism for “voluntarily unemployed.” Try to use specific projects to show how you advanced as a freelancer, providing evidence and contact references as you go. Need something more to show your work ethic? Getting a formal qualification or even attending short courses could make a difference. For example, if you’re a “qualified by experience” digital marketer, get certified!
5. Show Eagerness
Are you genuinely motivated to do your best at a post you’re applying for? If not, perhaps you shouldn’t be applying at all! However, if you genuinely feel that you can contribute to an organisation and would prefer formal employment over your current freelancing, find ways to let this shine through. Covering letters are a great place to give recruiters a deeper insight into your mindset. Balance your eagerness to gain formal employment with a specific company against the ways in which you can help them. Use your bragging rights, but show some humility too. Yes, you’re good at what you do – so good that you were able to work independently in your field – but you’re also ready to learn and grow as an employee.