The more résumés I write, the more I see jobseekers with less than 5 years of full-time work experience who have filled their time post-graduation with contract work, gigs, and freelance work. It’s true, we’re in a growing gig economy. And, of course I’m a gig person as well – I don’t have a full time position writing résumés, but it’s a passion, I’m great at it, and I’ve built up experience over years, so it's worth it to me to pursue it. Everyone knows that in the gig economy, with freelance or contract work, the biggest part of the work is finding the work. There are other downsides, too (though of course there are upsides as well.) Here I’ve created a list so that early career jobseekers can think about the benefits of a regular, full-time “9-5” job.
1. You don’t have to find work. At least for a bit. When you have a full-time position, at least for the first 6 months or so (unless it’s truly awful) you won’t need to be looking for work. If you’ve been freelancing or on contracts, you won’t believe how much time this frees up. Hello nights and weekends! If you haven’t been able to find the perfect fit, then you can use that free time to network, further your education, or continue searching for the perfect position. There’s something to be said about having a regular schedule, whether that includes nights and weekends or not. It’s easier to make plans and keep them when you know your schedule in advance.
2. Find out what it’s like to have a great (or horrible) boss. When you’re working freelance, you have multiple “bosses” at any given time. You’re working for your clients, and depending on the work they may change monthly, weekly, or even every few days. I’ve had great bosses and terrible bosses at full-time positions (haven’t we all?) and I have learned SO MUCH from both kinds. It’s a true gift to yourself to work a regular job and have the same person to please day in and day out. This is one way you learn how to develop great working relationships, which will only help you should you want to return to freelancing. A great boss will help you set goals and achieve them, and will provide constructive criticism so that you can improve your habits and work smarter. A great boss will also help you move up when the time is right.
3. Create relationships with colleagues. In the same relationship vein, it’s important to create relationships with colleagues and easiest to do this in a regular work setting. Just like your boss, whether you meet your best friend, spouse, or a colleague you can’t get along with to save your lives, you’ll learn a ton from working alongside the same people every day. You’ll also meet people who can provide a reference for you, connect you with others in your field, and people you might be able to help as well. People you spend time with at a regular job are more likely to become friends or "Colleagues 4 Life.” (That’s the tattoo you’ll get with them.)
4. Professional Etiquette. There’s no better way to learn professional etiquette – how to answer email politely no matter the subject/content, how to say no, how to talk to clients/colleagues on the phone, how to be a good colleague (no fish lunches in the microwave) than having a regular job. You’ll learn from all those around you. I can’t count the number of crucial lessons I learned in etiquette – and am still learning. I’ve emulated email styles from numerous colleagues depending on the circumstances and have been able to use all of that experience to create my own brand of customer service and colleague interaction. I love listening in on my colleagues talking with vendors or external partners and hearing their most professional voice; it helps me to hone my own!
5. Benefits. (Usually.) Enjoy benefits provided by your employer, without the headache or cost of having to figure them out yourself. Health insurance, vacation time, sick time, and holidays are usually part of the package. Always negotiate vacation time – contact me if you need tips!
6. Résumé Booster. It’s easy to make contract/freelance/gig work appear cohesive on a résumé. Contact me if you need help. But, should you ever want to find a 9-5 type job, experience at a 9-5 type job helps. (That seems like a contradiction, I know.) These jobs are easiest to get right out of graduation, wherever you are in your education. They also show that you have the dedication to work full-time. On a freelance résumé, you have to prove that you’re working the equivalent of a full-time position.
Wherever you are in your job search or career, it’s important to consider all the options. Please consider a regular full-time position among those options, especially if you're early in your career. A regular paycheck is not a bad thing! You haven’t sold out. Taking a regular, full-time job is making a smart personal decision to build up your experience and eventually be able to make your own rules. The résumés I’m seeing from early career jobseekers would greatly benefit from at least one full-time regular job where they prove their mettle. Then the world can be yours, after learning some important skills that you’ll be hard-pressed to learn working for yourself. Do you agree? If you've been really successful with freelance work for your entire career, what are your tips?
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