The Best and Worst Parts of Freelancing

Best and Worst Parts of Freelancing

freelancingYou’ve been an office worker for ages, dutifully trudging into your job every single day. But now, you’re ready to become the master of your own (work) destiny and forge a new career as a freelancer. And why shouldn’t you, since you’ve acquired numerous skills and experience over the course of your career. Before you advertise yourself as a freelancer, there are some things you should know about this style of work. Here are the best (and worst) parts of freelancing.

The Best Parts of Freelancing

You can customize your schedule.
When you worked in an office, you were basically told what to do, when to do it, and, unless you had a telecommuting job (in which case, you were able to work anywhere in the world), where to do it. As a freelancer, you are the boss, deciding when you want to work, where you want to work, how you want to work, and with which companies. So if you don’t feel like working for a few days so that you can spend some time with your kids, or if you feel like working from your local coffee shop, or if there’s a particular company that you’d like to work for, all of this is determined by you.

There are an abundance of well-paying freelance jobs.

Currently, there are about 53 million independent workers in the U.S., and that number is expected to rise to over 60 million by the year 2020. While you might think that you’ll have a lot of competition based on those stats, think again. There are a plethora of freelance jobs to be found, which is why four in 10 (42 percent) of freelancers have found (and completed) a freelance gig entirely online! And a whopping 77 percent of freelance workers claim to make the same (or more!) money than they did before they started freelancing, which shows that freelancing can be an excellent way of earning a living.

You can do what you love.

Typically, freelancers work in an industry that they truly love. As such, you get to pick and choose the projects that have the most meaning to you. This makes freelancing fun since you’re doing what you love—and getting paid for it.

The Worst Parts of Freelancing

It can be feast or famine.
By far, one of the biggest negatives to a freelancing life is the unsteady source of income. Some months, you might be overwhelmed with work, and other times, you might not have a project lined up for months. So you’ll need to be prepared for those times, both financially and emotionally. You should always have a few months’ income saved up to get you through the leaner times, and don’t dip into it. And you also need to remind yourself that not having any work to do is not a reflection of you or your skills. There are simply ebbs and flows in freelancing, and before you know it, your work calendar will be full again.

You need to think and act like a business owner.

When you worked in an office, you didn’t think twice about keeping track of your expenses. When you have a freelance career, though, you’re essentially operating as your own independent business. That’s why you’ll need to keep exact records of all of your earnings as a freelancer. You’ll also have to do your own taxes (or hire an accountant to do them for you), and keep track of your business expenses—right down to the copier paper and pens that you use in your home office.

You’ll need to be an expert networker.

Completing projects is only one small part of a freelancer’s life. The bigger bulk of your time will be spent trying to land those new clients and assignments. And the way to do that is by networking, networking, and networking. For most people, networking is something that they simply don’t love doing. But in order for you to keep your client list strong (and the projects pouring in), you’ll need to feel comfortable talking to potential clients about your skills, success stories, and previous work in order to garner new assignments.

Just like anything else, being a freelancer has its own pros and cons. But once you know the ins and outs of freelancing life, you can make it work for you, earning a living and scoring some serious work-life balance in the process.
Jennifer ParrisThis post was written by Jennifer Parris, career writer at FlexJobs, the award-winning site for telecommuting and flexible job listings. FlexJobs lists thousands of pre-screened, legitimate, and professional-level work-from-home jobs and other types of flexibility like part-time positions, freelancing, and flexible schedules. Jennifer provides career and job search advice through the FlexJobs Blog and social media. Learn more at www.FlexJobs.com.

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BoomerJobTips – Curated Content for June 20

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Mission and Purpose – The Negotiator Job Search

Mission and Purpose

mission and purposeWhat is the mission and purpose of your job search?

Without a defined mission and purpose,  how do you know if you’ve found the right position?

This is the 2nd post in the Negotiator Job Search series.

Here is the rest of the series so far:

In Jim Camp’s book,  Start with NO…The Negotiating Tools that the Pros Don’t Want You to Know, the author writes:

Effective negotiation is effective decision making, plain and simple, and the foundation of effective decision making is a valid mission and purpose to guide it.  This is the bedrock in my system. Ho can you stay on track during a long negotiation or endeavor of any kind without a clear mission and purpose? There’s no other way. Bit if you develop and adhere to a valid mission and purpose, how can you go off the track? If you have a valid mission and purpose, and the result of your negotiation fulfills this mission and purpose, it’s a good and worthwhile negotiation.

Your Mission and Purpose

You need to get very clear on:

  • Why you want to change jobs
  • What you want in your next job

If you want to leave your current position because of the boss, pay, working conditions, travel, stress levels or whatever is driving you nuts, you need to clearly state this!

Create a mission and purpose statement that clearly states the role you want. For example:

I want to move into marketing where I get to work on strategy. I do not want to manage people, but be the catalyst for creating innovative products.

I have had a couple of clients who have been approached about positions where they would be managing a team. My question to them each time is, “Do you want to manage people?” Each time, the answer was a resounding NO!

So why are you considering the position?

Get clear on what is the mission and purpose of your job search.

This can be complicated if you are unemployed. Sometimes, you just need a job. If that is the case, your mission and purpose statement may be something like:

I want a marketing position where I get to work with a team that I like and get adequate compensation to allow me to pay the bills.

What do you want to go to and not runaway from?

When you want to leave a position, it is sometimes easy to pinpoint what you are running away from.

The better question to ask is what do you want to create, preserve, eliminate, or accept in your next position? You can read more about this model from Marshall Goldsmith in my post Career Reinvention – A Model for Change.

I recently had a conversation with a job club member who was unemployed. She took a temporary project management position with a local company. Her previous employer allowed her to work from home 100%, and this allowed her the freedom to take care of an elderly parent when needed.

In that temporary job, she learned just how important having freedom at this point her life was to her.

Create a list of what you want:

  • To Create – What do you want to do differently in your next job?
  • To Preserve – What do you want to maintain from your current job?
  • To Eliminate – What do you not want to remove from your experience?
  • To Accept – What do you not like but are willing to accept in a job?

These can be around compensation, benefits, team, boss, manager -vs- individual contributor, work life balance, office environment, and just about anything else that relates to work.

Recently, I had a client who interviewed with a company that has an open collaborative office environment. Everyone sits in one big open room. My client is easily distracted, so this environment would be very tough on her. She needs to be able to work in a quiet, secluded place for at least part of the day.

Get clear on what you want. You may not get everything you want, but having a clear mission and purpose is vital.

What is your Mission and Purpose in your job search?

The negotiation process in your job search should start by writing your mission and purpose statement before you start your job search!

The next post will be called Stop Trying to Control the Outcome!

Are you ready to define your Mission and Purpose in your job search?
Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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The Negotiator Job Search – An Introduction

Negotiator Job Search

negotiatorThink of yourself as a negotiator rather than a job seeker. If you do this, you’ll see how much more effective your job search will go.

I just finished a great book on negotiations: Start with NO…The Negotiating Tools that the Pros Don’t Want You to Know by Jim Camp. What it made me realize is that the system he lays out in the book applies to your job search.

This will be the first in a series of posts on how behaving like a negotiator can help you find a better job…faster!

Mission and Purpose

Camp says that the first thing you need to develop is a Mission and Purpose Statement. This will keep you focused throughout the negotiations.

Similarly, you need to understand why you are looking for a new job. Have you left one job because of a bad boss or a toxic environment, only to take the next job and find the same problem there?

Get clear on why you are leaving.

What do you want in your next position? It is not just about money, but you do need to know how much you want. Some considerations are freedom, work conditions, hours, commute, time with family, etc.

What do you want? If you know what you want, you can put on your negotiator hat early in the interview process and weed out opportunities that will not meet your needs.

Stop Trying to Control the Outcome

Camp says to focus on your behaviors and actions instead of outcome. You cannot make your adversary in any negotiation do anything. You can only focus on your own actions.

Similarly, in your job search, you can only control your actions. Waiting for a recruiter to call you back is not productive. You cannot make the recruiter call you, BUT you can take action by calling him or her. You can be persistent. You can control your emotions.

Focus on actions that you can control. Let go of those things you cannot control!

Fuels of the Camp System: Questions

Camp states:

The single most important fuel you have, the most important behavioral goal and habit you can develop, is your ability to ask questions.

The negotiator wants to understand what his or her adversary wants and, more importantly, needs. It is imperative to be able to ask good, open-ended questions.  An open-ended question is one that cannot be answered with a yes or no answer.

I have written about this previously in Probing for Pain Points in an Interview. You need to ask questions to find out:

  • What problems the organizations is trying to solve
  • What are the pain points
  • Who is the decision maker for this hire
  • Who influences the decision

What we hope is for someone during the interview process to spill the beans and give information you are not supposed to know!

In a later post, I will write on how to construct open-ended questions.

Nurturing and Reversing

Camp discusses that a negotiator approaches negotiations from their adversary’s point of view. The negotiator wants to get inside of adversary’s head. One approach is to be very nurturing in your voice and body language.

Similarly, when you are interviewing and asking questions, you want to be aware of the tone of voice you use. You want to feel approachable. Using the proper body language and vocal tone is key to giving this impression.

Camp also uses question reversing when asked a question that you do not want to answer. I have written about this twice before:

Both of these are questions you do not want to answer. Camp suggests to reverse the situation and answer with a question. This is a very effective negotiation technique, and you should apply it to your job search.

A negotiator will use nurturing conversation to make their adversary at ease, but when posed with a question that they do not want to answer, they will be ready to reverse with a question.

More on this in a future post.

Quiet Your Mind, Create a Blank Slate

Camp talks about managing expectations and assumptions. He talks about creating a blank slate. The whole idea is to stay emotionally even.

If someone in the interview process says, “You’re a perfect fit for this job,” you suddenly have positive expectations, which can be killers. You let your guard down. You may walk out of the interview and think yeah! And then, nothing. You wait and wait and wait…

Unless you hear, “We will be making an offer in two days,” then keep your guard up, quiet your mind, and create a blank slate. In negotiations, the negotiator is always on guard. You should be too!

Assume Nothing

Assumptions are killers for any negotiator. Camp says he has often heard someone say:

“I know what they’ll do if we make that offer.”

“This is the way they operate.”

“If you raise the price, they’ll want a volume discount.”

You have probably done the same in your job search.

I am too expensive for them.”

I am a perfect fit for the job.”

“If I ask for more money, they will rescind the offer.”

All of these assumptions can be killers to you getting what you want.

Know Their “Pain,” Paint Their “Pain”

Camp says:

Pain. This what brings every adversary in every negotiation to the table.

In negotiations, your adversary sees either current or future problem.

Similarly, when the hiring manager is looking to fill a position, he or she is trying to solve a problem.

You need to understand what their pain is. Only then can you frame the issue to address their pain. You want to get into their head before you enter the interview. You will need to do some research.

The Real Budget

Camp talks about creating a budget made up of time, energy, money, and emotion.

Camp states:

My rough-and-ready formula for calculating the overall budget for negotiation gives “time” a value of x, “energy” 2x, “money” 3x and “emotion” 4x.

Notice that time is the least important but emotion is the most important.

How much emotional capital did you spend in your last or current job search? If you are a baby boomer, the answer will be a lot. Think about the budget like a negotiator.

The Shell Game

Be sure you know the real decision makers!

Camp states:

Who’s calling the shots? Who are the real decision makers within the adversary’s bureaucracy? This might seem, at first glance, to be a fairly mundane issue, but it’s not. It is a critically important issue in any negotiation.

I have had multiple discussions with clients about the role of the recruiter. They are not decision makers, but they are road blocks. If they tell you the hiring manager will like, not like, or whatever…they are only sending a signal. Treat them politely like messengers, and make sure your messages are delivered.

Sometimes even the hiring manager is not the real decision maker. It may be their boss.

When I was hired by a non-profit, the decision to hire me was made by the CEO and not my manager.

Behave like a negotiator and play the shell game to find out who is the real decision maker.

The End Game

If you have played the negotiator role throughout the interview process, negotiating the offer will be easy. You will know:

  • What they want
  • What you want
  • Who is the true decision maker
  • Their budget
  • How to control your emotions

I recently had a client ask a VP they interviewed  with, “What keeps you up at night?” The VP spilled the beans about all of the problems they were having. My client now knows why they want and need her. This will be invaluable in negotiating the offer.

This is the beginning of a series on this topic. Look for a post once a week, diving deeper into each section of the Negotiator Job Search.

Read the rest of the series:

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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BoomerJobTips – Curated Content for June 13

BoomerJobTips Update

BoomerJobTipsWelcome to this weeks BoomerJobTips Update the central point to get current career information for the Baby Boomer Generation!

Check BoomerJobTips Daily for the latest curated career content. Content is curated from hundreds of the leading career websites with a focus on baby boomer career issues.

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Has Your Job Been SMACed? If not Yet, It Will!

SMAC – Social Mobile Analytics Cloud

SMACSMAC is here…and is disrupting our careers. I recently wrote about disruptive technologies and how they will likely disrupt your career.

If you think you are immune from SMAC, I want to take the rest of this post to convince you differently.

S is for Social or Social Media

If you are a PR or Marketing professional, you know your world has changed. All you need to do is look at the demise of the local newspaper and local broadcast news. Most of the population 30 years of age get their news from Facebook and other social channels.

We are entering the 2nd phase of Social Media marketing. It is called Pay to Play. Effective marketing of your product or service on Social Media is no longer free. The organizations that are most adversely affected are non-profits, which have little or no budget for Social Media marketing.

You already know that Social Media has become a prevalent way for employers to find talent. The days of find a job posting on Monster, CareerBuilder, or in the newspaper are largely over. Companies are out looking for talent, and do not care whether you are looking for a job! It is your responsibility to make yourself attractive as a passive candidate. Will Thomson of Bullseye Recruiting wrote a great guest post, 5 Key Traits Recruites look for in a Passive Candidate, which explains this change.

The S in SMAC is changing everything.

M is for Mobile

Mobile is changing everything! Even Google is scared of what mobile can do to their business. Google recently changed their search algorithms to favor those websites that are mobile friendly. If you own or work for a small business and your website is not mobile friendly, well…good luck!

When I look at my phone, I will find my calendar, contacts, e-mail, social apps, maps, and other apps that you would expect. I also have Audible so that I can listen to books in the car or at the gym. ESPN and ESPNwatch so I can watch sports. I have two of my local radio station’s apps, so I can listen to them at the gym. Car2Go so that I can find and rent a car. Kindle so that I can read a book anytime anywhere. CNN and Al Jazeera America so I can read the national news. Podcasts so I can listen to podcasts at the gym. WOW!

If I walk out of my condo and do not have my iPhone, I feel naked.

Mobile is changing how we shop. Mobile is changing how we find things. Mobile is changing how we pay for things! Mobile is changing how we are found. That is the scary part.

If you career has not been affected by mobile yet, it will!

The M in SMAC is changing everything.

A is for Analytics

More data has been collected in the last few years than was collected in the previous century. A lot of it is coming voluntarily from our activities via Social Media and Mobile. How we shop, where we shop, what we pay with, where we go online, and even how long it takes to get somewhere are some of the things that inform this data.

Earlier this month, it was reported that Texas Department of Transportation is using bluetooth devices in the cars to determine how long it takes to get from point A to point B.

Do you remember the movie Minority Report where Tom Cruise walks through a mall and hyper-customized ads displayed everywhere. Analytics is here to stay—and we allow it.

Analytics will affect how you are hired. There will be so much data on you, that the employer will be able to run all of it through an algorithm to determine whether you are a good fit.

The A in SMAC is changing everything.

C is for Cloud

Cloud is changing everything in the technology world. Most of the major technology hardware vendors are seeing portions of their business collapse. A classic example is IBM, who missed the shift and is seeing massive changes in their business. Their hardware business is collapsing.

Cloud computing is sometimes referred to SaaS (Software as a Service). Cloud (SaaS) is causing massive shifts in the background for many businesses.

Small businesses can now have access to resources that they only dreamed about in the past.  Whether it is e-mail marketing, disk storage, photo editing, or e-mail, you have no need to install software. This change has also allowed for data to be shared with anyone and at any time.

For example, every receipt I get is now electronic. Places like Office Depot e-mail me receipts. I save the receipts in a folder in Dropbox. My bookkeeper can access the receipts from Dropbox and enter them into a spreadsheet or even Quickbooks in the cloud. She can be anywhere in the world, and we rarely have to talk.

This has made it so much easier for freelancers to service clients, but also for companies to offer their services to customers worldwide.

The C in SMAC is changing everything.

SMAC and Your Career

SMAC is eliminating jobs. It is creating new jobs. It has made it easier for you to offer your services to anyone in the world. It has also made it easier for others to compete with you.

How has SMAC affected your job?

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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BoomerJobTips – Curated Content for June 6

BoomerJobTips Update

BoomerJobTipsWelcome to this weeks BoomerJobTips Update the central point to get current career information for the Baby Boomer Generation!

Check BoomerJobTips Daily for the latest curated career content. Content is curated from hundreds of the leading career websites with a focus on baby boomer career issues.

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Career

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5 Simple Steps to a Successful Telephone Interview

Telephone Interview

telephone interviewWe have all had a telephone interview. They are a very important part of the initial screening process for filling a position. If you do not get past the initial screen, well…you will not get the job.

Let me give you five simple steps to follow for a successful telephone interview.

Step 1 – Research the Interviewer

It is critical that you know something about the person you will be interviewing with.

Look them up on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

If you are interviewing with a recruiter or HR person, send a connection request immediately after getting the interview notice.

What are they posting? Where have they worked? Do you have any hobbies in common? This is where Facebook helps!

You want to be able to personally connect with the interviewer.

For more, read: Understanding the Hiring Manager Prior to the Interview

Step 2 – Prepare Probing Questions

I want you to think like a consultant during the telephone interview. You should probe for pain points. In an initial telephone interview, this might include the following:

  • Is this a newly created position?
  • What are the responsibilities of the position?
  • Are these responsibilities new to the department, organization, or company?
  • What are the new business requirements that are causing you to fill this position?

You are looking for reasons that the position is open. Once you understand the reasons, you can properly position yourself as the best candidate.

For more, read: Probing for Pain Points in an Interview

Step 3 – Prepare Yourself Mentally

You want to feel confident and poised in the interview.

One hour before the interview, get some moderate exercise. This might be going for a fast walk or climbing stairs for 15-20 minutes. If you are nervous at all, this will help take the edge off.

It is not important if you are sweaty during the interview. They cannot smell you over the phone!

The next step is based on the premise that your body shapes who you are.

Amy Cuddy was a TED Talk presenter, and in her video Amy Cuddy: Your body language shapes who you are, she explains that, when you take on powerful and winning body shapes, it will increase testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain.

You will feel more confident.

For this activity, you will probably need to go into a bathroom stall. Stick your hands up like Usain Bolt when he won the 100 meter dash at the Olympics. Keep them up for two minutes and soak in that winning feeling. If you still don’t believe me, read her paper, Power Posing.

Yes, I know this sounds crazy, but it does work!

For more, read: 3 Steps to Walking Into Your Interview with Confidence

Step 4 – Setup Your Interview Space

Prepare to take the telephone interview in a quiet space where you will be standing up.

Use a headset on either a land line or your cell phone. If you are using a cell phone, make sure you have a very good signal. If you have to go outside, be sure to find a spot away from wind.

It is critical that you be standing up and have the use of your hands to gesture.

If you are a pacer when you talk, make sure your shoes do not squeak. You may even want to take them off.

For more, read: 4 Steps in Creating Your Video Interview Environment

Step 5 – Be Positive and Tell Stories During the Telephone Interview

One key way to stay positive during a telephone interview is to smile!

Yes, I know that the person on the other telephone cannot see you, but if you are smiling, it is really tough to be other than positive.

When you are asked a question, try to answer by saying, “Let me tell about the time that…” Do not simply tell the interviewer you can do the job. Instead, answer the question by telling a story of when you demonstrated the skill required for this new position.

For more read: Adding Storytelling to the Interview Process

If you follow these five simple steps you will improve your chances of moving forward in the interview process.

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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Are You a Giver, Taker, or Matcher?

Giver, Taker, or Matcher

giverAre you a giver, taker, or matcher?  Think about it!

This is my second blog post based on the book Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success by Adam Grant.

My last post, Weak Ties versus Strong Ties in your Job Search, came directly from this book.

Givers

Adam Grant wrote:

In the workplace, givers are a relatively rare breed. They tilt reciprocity in the other direction, preferring to give more than they get. Whereas takers tend to be self-focused, evaluating what other people can offer them, givers are other-focused, paying more attention to what other people need from them. These preferences aren’t about money: givers and takers aren’t distinguished by how much they donate to charity or the compensation that they command from their employers. Rather, givers and takers differ in their attitudes and actions toward other people. If you’re a taker, you help others strategically, when the benefits to you outweigh the personal costs. If you’re a giver, you might use a different cost-benefit analysis: you help whenever the benefits to others exceed the personal costs. Alternatively, you might not think about the personal costs at all, helping others without expecting anything in return. If you’re a giver at work, you simply strive to be generous in sharing your time, energy, knowledge, skills, ideas, and connections with other people who can benefit from them.

Hmm…do you know some givers?

Takers

Adam Grant wrote:

Takers have a distinctive signature: they like to get more than they give. They tilt reciprocity in their own favor, putting their own interests ahead of others’ needs. Takers believe that the world is a competitive, dog-eat-dog place. They feel that to succeed, they need to be better than others. To prove their competence, they self-promote and make sure they get plenty of credit for their efforts. Garden-variety takers aren’t cruel or cutthroat; they’re just cautious and self-protective.

Matchers

Adam Grant wrote:

We become matchers, striving to preserve an equal balance of giving and getting. Matchers operate on the principle of fairness: when they help others, they protect themselves by seeking reciprocity. If you’re matcher, you believe in tit for tat, and your relationships are governed by even exchanges.

Matchers are the most common in our workplace. If I help you, you will help me. If you help me, I will help you. Tit for tat.

The lines between these styles are not hard and fast. You have probably worked with all three.

Networking and Givers, Takers, or Matchers

One of the easiest places to spot differences is at a networking event.

Takers are those who will readily go from person to person handing out their business cards and asking for yours. You get a LinkedIn connection request that evening, even though you barely talked with them. For them, it is a numbers game.

The differences between Givers and Matchers can be subtle. They are the ones who engage in the art of conversation. They want to learn more about you. A giver will usually end the conversation with the question, “How can I help you?”

Think about the people you work with. What reciprocity model do they use?

Are you a giver, taker, or matcher?

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

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BoomerJobTips – Curated Content for May 30

BoomerJobTips Update

BoomerJobTipsWelcome to this weeks BoomerJobTips Update the central point to get current career information for the Baby Boomer Generation!

Check BoomerJobTips Daily for the latest curated career content. Content is curated from hundreds of the leading career websites with a focus on baby boomer career issues.

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Check out my book which is available on Amazon.com!

Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

You can also download my latest white paper The Multi-Generational Workplace – Making Generational Diversity Work