Taking a second job as a freelancer

Jun 10, 2021

Freelancing is often an enriching career path and a freeing experience. You have the opportunity to be independently driven in your activities, and set your own pace of work. However, that’s not to say that it is always a smooth process.

There may come a time that you decide to take on a second, non-freelancing job. This might be because economic uncertainty has caused your freelance workload to become a little lighter. Alternatively, it could be the case that you’ve taken the sensible step of being pickier about the freelance jobs you accept to avoid burnout. Whatever the reason may be, getting a second job isn’t about abandoning the freelance career that you value, but rather being responsible about financially supporting yourself so that you can continue to follow your path.

We’re going to review some of the elements that should be key points of focus if you decide to take on a second job, and how to approach them successfully.

Any job search can be daunting. When you’ve been a freelancer for some time, returning to this process can be jarring — it’s certainly different from pitching your services to potential clients. The first step is to have a solid idea of the type of work you are looking for. Consider industries, roles, and even environments that you’re interested in working in. Remember, you don’t have to seek the same kinds of work that you freelance in — in fact, the change can be a useful break.

While your primary intention for this second job may well be financial, don’t overlook the value it could provide for your other ambitions. Just as you would ask yourself questions before taking a freelance gig, prepare some questions that you can ask yourself when reading job advertisements. Are there opportunities for more creative input? Can you utilize a flexible schedule or work from home? The more you can understand what you want, the better you’ll be able to direct your search.

The next aspect that you need to understand about job searching today is how employers narrow down their candidates. We’ll cover resumes and skills shortly, but one of the most important changes that have occurred over the last several years has been the introduction of recruitment software into the process. This uses artificial intelligence (AI) to study data on the industry, the company’s needs, even career mobility and develop algorithms that help companies to pinpoint the most suitable candidates. As such, when setting up profiles on job search websites and LinkedIn, you need to include keywords that are likely to match those sought for the industry and business you are applying for. You are essentially working to capture the attention of the software so that your resume can get into human hands.

Representing Your Skills

Successfully gaining a second job alongside your freelancing can depend upon how well you represent your abilities. It’s a difficult issue. On paper, when you write down your employment history, it can look like you have been your own employer for some time and your skills haven’t changed. But, let’s face it, your freelancing career has imbued you with skills in a wide range of areas that will be valuable to any employer. You just need to understand how to communicate that.

This starts with your resume. While you have a lot to offer, you can help the success of your job search by keeping it simple. Whether you’re applying online via your LinkedIn profile or sending in a physical copy, format your experiences so that the most relevant skills to the role are immediately visible. Showcase responsibilities and experiences that are well-suited to the type of position you’re applying for. In a resume, a chronological account of your past jobs is usually standard. But if you’ve been a freelancer for some time, you can instead provide some examples of projects you’ve been involved with and your duties within them.

However, remember that your resume is primarily to get you into an interview situation. This is the moment when you can go in-depth into your skill sets — not just the technical abilities, but also your soft skills such as communication, leadership, project management, and empathy. Take time to prepare how to talk about these in a non-self-aggrandizing way, but still get across just how valuable you could be to their business. If possible, it can be helpful to practice with a friend a couple of times before the interview so you can better understand whether your description of your skills is understandable and impressive to an external party.

Finding Support

It’s important to also recognize that a job search is not always a fast process. Between finding the right second job to do alongside your freelancing work, submitting applications and undertaking interviews, it can be quite lengthy. This is obviously not ideal if your freelance jobs have slowed down and your income is stretched. As such, it can be smart to look into some alternative sources of financial support in the meantime.

Take time to review your access to benefits. If you are living with a disability, in particular, you may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments. This can help you to weather the rough periods, and it can often be enough to keep making payments into your individual retirement account (IRA) and other low-income investments so that your future stability doesn’t suffer too greatly. However, it’s also important to remember that earned income from your existing freelancing work might take you over the threshold, so it’s best to stay cognizant of how much you’re able to earn before you lose this benefit.

Conclusion

There may come a time in any freelancing career that you may need to take on a second job, even for a temporary period. It’s not always an easy task to accomplish, and you may need to seek some financial support along the way. But if you take time to hone your search approach and create a resume that effectively showcases your range of valuable skills, you can find a role that can support your future endeavors.

This is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send us your blog post.

Noah Rue

Noah Rue is a journalist and a digital nomad fascinated with the intersection between global health and modern technology.