Challenges Facing Freelancers Hoping to Transition into Full-time Employees

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Making a transition from full-time freelancer to full-time employee is much easier than it used to be – thanks to the changing economy and increasing job insecurity.

“One of the silver linings out of the economic downturn is that many people started doing freelance work,” Tracy Sinclair, global vice president for marketing for Aquent, a staffing solutions company, tells eFinancialCareers. “I’ve seen attitudes toward freelance work changing. The difference between 1998 and '99 and now is quite dramatic. It used to be that freelancing was something that graphic designers did.”

Still, making the transition can come with a few challenges, including concerns from potential employers about long-term commitment.

Here are a few suggestions for overcoming the challenges.

Be transparent

How you approach this depends on what kind of freelancer you’ve been. If you’ve been a free agent by choice for the last several years, says Chad Oakley, president of Charles Aris, Inc., a global executive search firm headquartered in Greensboro, NC, attempt to convince the hiring manager of your desire to seek full-time employment – and why.

He says that although many employers understand that the job market has been unkind to job seekers, it still pays to be upfront if it wasn’t your choice to freelance full-time.

“Companies know that people have been affected by layoffs,” he says. “Just tell them the truth, which was that you were laid off and in this economy you couldn’t find anything. But instead of just sitting back and collecting unemployment checks, you pursued things in line with your skill set. If you proactively bring it up, people will believe you to be honest and trustworthy.”

Strive to do projects for companies that interest you – or their competitors

“If you want to work for Apple, doing work for a competitor or their suppliers is a good strategy,” says Sinclair, adding that it could help get you noticed. “If you are a financial services company and they are making a hire, they want to hire someone with financial services experience. If you want to work at J.P. Morgan, it will make you more attractive to go to Fidelity.”

Sell your skills, not your title

“People want to see your experience,” says Marie Pierre Stien, human resource manager for the Greensheet, a company that attempts to connect buyers and sellers through print and online classified ads.

”For example, if you are a graphic designer, talk about the software you have used.

 They want to know your skill set is going to be useful in the general corporate environment. 

Title matters far less. In fact, when you are the CEO or owner of your own firm and you write that on your resume,
 the first thing I think is, ‘Look at the ego on this person.’"

Demonstrate your commitment to the employer

“The big question is around commitment,” says Caroline Ceniza-Levine, a career expert, writer and speaker. “Does this person really want to come back or are they just looking to escape the volatility for a
 while? Does this person really want to work at my company? It's critical for
 the free agent to have clear and very believable reasons for wanting 
traditional employment, not just wanting to get away from free agency.”

Erase doubts about your ability to fit into the company culture

“If a candidate has to convince the company that culturally you can be a valuable team member in a full-time environment, it always raises the question of whether there are cultural challenges with this person which is why they don’t do well in full-time environments,” says Oakley. “Having references that speak to your personality and your ability to immerse yourself in any number of cultures would be very helpful.”

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