Many people over 50, including myself, find it difficult to get that elusive full-time job. You know the one. With great pay and good benefits. The holy grail of jobs.
Maybe it’s ageism, maybe not. I don’t know.
At the same time that it’s increasingly difficult to land a full-time job, the freelancing marketplace is exploding. There are countless platforms, clients and opportunities to sell our expertise in the marketplace. Companies that would never consider offering me a full-time position are more than happy to give me a good-paying project.
It started me thinking. Why is it so hard to get a job and so (relatively) easy to get a freelancing gig? And I think I know the answer. Risk and skill match.
A job is a very particular bundle of skills, experiences and tasks. A company looking to fill a position is looking for someone with a very specific combination of skills and experiences to do a very specific list of tasks. You see this bundle on any job opening. It’s the list of bullet points in the job description.
It’s hard to find a person with all those bullet points. Heck, such a person may not even exist. When was the last time you saw a job opening where you met all the requirements? It’s also very difficult and time-consuming (and maybe impossible) for companies to find someone with the whole bundle. And even if they can find such a person, they may not be a good fit at the company.
Hiring anyone is a big risk. It will take a while to know if they’ll work out. And if they don’t, it will be a significant waste of time and money. Hiring an employee is risky. But not freelancing.
Freelancing solves two very important problems for employers: risk and skill match. First, it’s much less risky to hire a freelancer for a project. It’s easier to terminate the relationship and the only thing at risk is just a single project.
More importantly, though, it’s much easier for companies to find the proper skill match for their project. They don’t need to find a one-in-a-million combination of skills and experiences. They just need to find someone with the one or few skills required for that project. A much easier task.
At the same time, it’s much easier for freelancers to get work too because we don’t need that miracle combination of skills and experiences. We just need the ability to do that one project. And that offers us a tremendous benefit: the ability to become experts.
Applying for a job is like trying to morph yourself into this unique creature so that this one company will find your attractive. And if you don’t get the job, all that morphing won’t help you apply to the next job because that next company will want a whole different kind of morphing.
Freelancing, on the other hand, doesn’t require any morphing. Pick a skill you enjoy and concentrate on that one skill. Become the world’s best at it and sell it to the freelancer marketplace. You can even get so good you have no competition.
Freelance clients are much less hung up on resumes and are more concerned that you can do the job. Show them a portfolio of the work they’re looking for and they won’t care where you got your degree (or if you even have one).
If you’re struggling to find full-time work, you can augment your job search with a little freelancing. Who knows, you just might do so well at freelancing that you think to yourself, take this job and…
Also published on Medium.