When you’re a freelancer, job-hunting is a competitive sport.
Ever spend half a Sunday afternoon straight-up creeping on Indeed.com and LinkedIn for the latest opportunities?
Mining for precious gems amid the clutter of “freelance” and part-time job postings can be an extremely time-consuming yet incredibly rewarding exercise.
If you’re a freelancer, you know that keeping abreast of who’s hiring, and for what, is a critical component of running your business.
Here are some tips and tricks to getting the most value out of your weekly (daily?) scans of leading job boards.
Pay attention to the patterns
When I first ventured into the unchartered waters of self-employment, I was quite green when it came to how I positioned my talents to prospective clients. I took a very insular approach: “I am good at skills X, Y and Z for these types of companies, therefore that’s who I am as an independent consultant.”
Makes sense, right?
As the months went by, I started to pay attention to patterns in what potential employers were seeking. Nobody was looking for “random assistance across marketing and PR,” but a LOT of people needed help devising content strategy and building editorial teams to help power their earned, owned and paid media engines.
This marketing and editorial hybrid lined up quite nicely with my professional experience in corporate comms and my educational background in journalism, so I reworked my standard pitch and headline as a result.
Assume all job listings are flexible and fluid
One of my early bets as a newly-minted freelancer was to try to connect with companies hiring for full-time roles in my area of expertise. My thought process: if they have the budget for a full-time role, certainly they have the budget for a contractor.
Also, having been on the other side of the equation—that is, hunting for talent as hiring manager—I recalled times when I had projects on my plate that I could have really used a hand with as I searched for a full-time option.
I smelled an opportunity.
My outreach strategy was to identify the hiring manager at the company (there was no way my freelance pitch was going to get past HR) and offer myself up for interim or contract-based support. Nine times out of ten, the hiring manager responded, even if I wasn’t a fit or if they weren’t open to the contract option.
Eventually I found success helping a pinch-hit for someone who was on sabbatical, filling the void of an open F/T req, and parlaying what was listed as a full-time role into a part-time, recurring contract gig.
Build a list of “dream clients”
You’d be surprised how much you can learn from browsing job boards. AngelList is one of my favorites, due to the sheer volume of unique and innovative startups to be found there.
Through browsing AngelList, I discovered Bread, a “layaway button” for ecommerce websites; Acorns, a surely idiot-proof app for short-term saving; and AND CO (for whom I write this post), an intelligent app to help freelancers run their businesses like the bosses that they are. (It’s awesome and you should download it immediately.)
A few weeks into trolling AngelList and other job boards, I realized how much I was learning about the space I operate in. A lot of startups seemed to be hiring “Chiefs of Staff” (we just snagged one over at AND CO); remote roles were definitely on the rise (we have those too, BTW); and chatbots were everywhere.
Beyond the macro-trends, I also learned a great deal about specific companies in my industry that piqued my interest. I started a simple spreadsheet of “companies to watch” and started to actively monitor news and opportunities around those organizations. Remember, even if prospective employers aren’t hiring right now, it’s helpful to track your dream clients so you can be ready to strike when the iron’s hot.
Add value as a connector
This last tip is my favorite. While the freelance community is growing steadily (there are 55 million freelancers in the U.S. right now, according to the smart folks at Freelancers Union, and 40 percent of the workforce will be independent by 2020, ), face it: you’re still a minority. That’s why your pals are at Sunday brunch while you’re sliding into LinkedIn DMs.
A true freelancer wouldn’t have it any other way, and I’d argue that the foraging aspect of freelancing can be a competitive advantage.
Who else has an almost-up-to-the-minute pulse on which companies are hiring, and for what roles? Who else is in constant touch with the jobs market across regions, industries, and employers?
Use your knowledge to connect friends and peers with interesting roles, and liberally share exciting companies and opportunities with your networks. Career karma exists, and your value-adding capabilities will come back to you in spades.
If you’re self-employed, your time isn’t just money. It’s everything. To max out your potential, you can either seek ways to be more efficient, cutting down time on low-value tasks to free up bandwidth; or, you can find ways to squeeze more value out of time-consuming tasks like gig-hunting.
AND CO’s here to help you with both, so as you implement some of these tricks into your own searches, you should also sign up for The Gig List. Just submit your email and we’ll send you the ten most interesting freelance jobs we’re able to unearth each week.
Katie Perry is editor at AND CO, an app that helps freelancers, solopreneurs and digital nomads manage their operations. For the latest and greatest freelance gigs each week, check out The Gig List by AND CO.
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