Since the 2008, market failure and the subsequent problems following it, the face of employment has changed drastically. Employers are trying to develop new ways to lower the cost of doing business, not out of being cheap, but in actual need to keep their companies a float. One of the ways of doing this is hiring freelancers, or as they are more formally called, independent contractors.
Independent contractors are people who specialize usually in one or two types of work, in a particular field. There is everything from independent computer programmers to independent telemarketers out there. They come from all walks of life, and they have one thing in common. They are especially skilled at what they do. This is why they can branch out on their own and manage to be hired by others on a per project basis.
Benefits of hiring freelancers: The Employers View
When an employer is faced with a project that may only be lasting a few years, or a larger long term project that needs hands on it that are highly specialized and there is no one within the company with the qualifications, this is one example of when they might consider hiring a freelancer. With a freelancer, they are hired on a contract basis, and because of such are paid their fee as negotiated and agreed upon and are not considered full company employees. While they may be drawing a much higher per hour pay than the company employees, it bears remembering that when an employer hires a freelance worker, the company does not have to pay taxes on their pay or for benefits or any unemployment insurance; all of these are the responsibility of the freelancer to pay on their end.
When shopping for a freelancer for your position, there are many consulting agencies that are brick and mortar as well as those that are based online in their entirety. When speaking to your account representative make sure that you are abundantly clear about your expectations. This is very much a “what you see is what you get” business. Make sure that you look into the feedback of the firm or person that you hire and get references from previous employers.
What is in it for me? Contractors View
For the most part, the reason people become independent contractors is that they wish to have more variety in their situation and prefer to work their own hours instead of punching a clock each day at 8am and again at 5pm. To put yourself out there as an independent contractor, you are essentially telling the world that you are an expert in your field. Chances are if you’ve gone so far as to become a freelancer, you are an expert in your field.
Perhaps the biggest advantage of working this way is setting your own hours and making the final decisions as to what projects you take on and for how long. Your work gets evaluated on a daily basis and while for some that can be nerve wracking, for the right freelancer it is a freedom they would never give up.
OK, I’m sold. I want to hire/become a freelancer. What is my next step?
Hiring A Freelancer
You have made the decision to take that leap and hire a freelancer for your upcoming project. Let’s say that it is a new computer programming project in which the result is an elegant looking and user friendly user interface for this otherwise command line only program that the office uses every day. Your first step will be to choose if you will be using one of the brick and mortar agencies or one of the online based freelancer project sites. If you select an agency, they will guide you through their process, and there is little about that for us to write about for you as each agency is different. However, using the Internet-based sites is a little different and often yields excellent results at a lower cost than using an agency would be.
There is many freelance project posting sites out there, below are just a handful of the better known ones:
When you sign up and make a profile (it is usually free to do so and necessary to browse available freelancers), you will want to browse freelancers by keywords. Use the keywords that best describes your project. In this case I would use GUI (graphical user interface) and Web design. Once you have a few freelancers in mind and have a decent idea of how the site works, go ahead and make a posting for your project. This is like an advertisement for the project itself going into what will be required, how many hours are expected to be put into it, reporting procedure for progress notes and, of course, rate of pay. From here, you can invite certain freelancers to place a bid on the project and leave it open for others to come in and discover what is being offered and set up bids themselves. Set a time limit for bids to be taken (usually anywhere from 24 hours to 2 weeks). Then, when it is done, select those you wish to interview and then who will take on the project. It is as easy as that!
Becoming a Freelancer
Using the same sits we have listed above, visit them and make yourself a profile there. Make sure that you are treating it like a resume, as if this is the first tool that potential employers will see. If it is sloppy or clearly arrogant or bragging, you will not be taken seriously. If you are in a field like writing, programming or graphics design, make sure to maintain a portfolio that prospective employers can examine to help them make their decision. A decent, well-stocked portfolio can make the difference between programming toilet seats to flush automatically and working on the next NASA programming project.
When you are set up, take a look around in your interest areas at the various advertisements for jobs. Make certain that you read the requirements all the way through before sending in a proposal! There is nothing more embarrassing than showing that you are unable to read basic instructions by blundering into the proposal without all of the facts on hand because you did not take 5 minutes to read. Once an employer accepts your proposal, make certain to sit down either by instant messenger, Skype video conference or phone call to hammer out terms and how the work is to be completed. Always stick to a strong working ethic, and you will have few problems to worry about in your new working environment.
Is this how employment will evolve?
It may very well be. This form of employment puts the burden of responsibility on the worker, not the employer. This is one way to make certain that companies keep their costs down while still maintaining a viable workforce. There is nothing saying that, if you enjoy a freelancer so much, renewing their contract many times is not possible. Just remember, however, that they have the ultimate power in the end. They might choose not renewing for any number of reasons…or no reason at all, as is their privilege. This form of employment also brings us to the point of a truly worldwide workforce. There are on the freelancer board people from every country on the planet that has an Internet connection somewhere nearby.
Last but not least, this form of employment allows for employers to switch from large buildings and offices to a small, much smaller place that costs less as employees are often working remotely from home! As time goes on, this is becoming more and more common all over the world. Next time you look for a job ask if they allow you to telecommute! They just might allow it.