There are numerous reasons why I freelance that cannot completely sum up in this article. However, I think it is fair to give everyone (readers and potential clients) some of the reasons why, and hopefully encourage others to do the same.
Nine years ago, I set out on a mission to not only get involved in school, but also to improve myself. As far as I am concerned, that was the “trial by fire” phase. The readers of the college newspaper were not only students, but professors as well. Educated people read that newspaper, and I had to look good to them, namely because they could provide opportunities down the road in my life as a writer slash journalist slash blogger slash some guy with an opinion on the internet. There’s way too many of the last, and the only way to distinguish yourself is not only to have the right tone, writing style, etc. but also the right opinions as well (at least in regards to recent times). But I digress.
Leaving college also meant leaving an atmosphere that provided support, both academic and emotional (not to mention expensive, but well worth it in the end). It meant going out in the world and getting a job, entering an atmosphere where you won’t know who will have your back. The world of employment (as in going into an office and everything) requires people to conform to a certain type of thinking for the good of the company.
The idea of employers hunting you down on social media is one of the most absurd ideas I have ever heard of. 93 percent of hiring managers stalk you on social media, and they even go further than just reading your posts and looking at your pictures: they criticize how you act off the clock as well as pick at your political affiliation. While this may be more relevant to certain jobs, it has no bearing on actual skill at said job.
I found work in 2012 in Metro Manila, the capital region of the Philippines. It was something I had to give thought to, and I eventually agreed because it would give me experience and how to become a better writer and reporter. It wasn’t the ideal starting point for my career, but I did get to go to Thailand and Singapore as a result. The people I worked with were great, and I eventually was rehired two years ago to write the two things I loved writing about most: gaming and history.
But I started to question what my goals really were. Was it practical to continue sending resume after resume to people, begging potential employers to give me a chance to prove my skills for scraps that fell off the table? Or do I realize my self-worth and create something with unlimited potential for earning?
I listened to every piece of advice under the sun for job searching. My parents have not applied for any jobs since the 1980s and they kept telling me to “try harder” without having any clue on how the hiring process worked in the 2010s. I have learned several different things regarding applying for jobs that I will enumerate below.
1. Most resumes won’t reach the eyes of a human.
Six seconds. That’s how long a resume gets read (if it even reaches the eyes of a human being). Many companies are peddling recruiting software to make sure that this remains the norm in any industry, and it is a problem for people who just want to show that they can do the job. Fancy suits for interviews and paying other people (resume writers) to modify your resume is time-consuming, not to mention the money you need to commute to and from multiple interviews. There are numerous ways to fix this, but this is me explaining the reasons I choose to work freelance rather than the solutions (which can be discussed later).
In their eyes, you’re a piece of paper. While I understand that it is not their responsibility to house, feed, and clothe you, the fact that you spent dozens of hours making sure your resume is just right for a position seems like a waste of time. This time could have been spent more productively. If you spend hours into doing something that they only take six seconds to consider, it is impractical from both the view of the employee and the potential employer. The employee loses because of the time investment; the potential employer loses because of the absence of said time investment, which opens the door to make hasty decisions that might not work out for the employer in the end.
Instead of a resume, everyone should get a paid internship for a certain amount of time (ideally, one week) and be evaluated based on metrics that the company comes up with to fill positions. Those who pass the test will get a job. However, in an era where nepotism runs rampant and automation is filtering out candidates, this sounds like a pipe dream. Maybe one day someone will read this and think of it as a good idea, but that day might never come.
If the logic follows that most resumes will not be read, then I should only network with people who are in the position to hire other people on LinkedIn. I should not have to do that, because it will come off as me only using people for opportunities rather than getting to know someone based off of opportunities. Therefore, automation should be retooled or completely phased out of the hiring process.
2. Nepotism runs rampant.
Think of how many jobs you have applied for. How many of those jobs went to someone that the hiring manager already knew? In the public sector, nepotism is already forbidden. In the private sector, nepotism seems to be encouraged.
I am the biggest advocate of meritocracy. People with the highest capability and competence to do a job should have it. However, this is undermined when hiring managers hire family, friends, or even their crushes (actual situation I have been told about) to do jobs based on that association alone. While there may be some justification if they are skilled at the job, it often works against people. For instance, my cousin and his wife both work in the banking industry, but they are not allowed to work at the same bank.
Removing nepotism from the hiring process is next to impossible, and as I said for my previous reason, maybe one day someone will read this and think of it as a good idea. But my expectations are low for such a proposition.
3. Most career advice websites offer contradictory advice.
A quick Google search yielded 248 million results (not a typo). Career advice is an industry onto itself; many people are paid money to just dispense career advice. However, it is an industry where the right answer in one situation can be the wrong answer in another. I recently read an article where a man sent hiring managers donuts to get a marketing job. Some people praised it as “creative” while others dismissed it as a bribe and said they would never hire this person. What is the real answer here? It all depends on the whims of the people who are put in power of hiring and firing.
There are some aspects of career advice that are correct. You have to use proper spelling and grammar (you should do it all the time, actually) and you have to tailor your resume and cover letter to the job. But that isn’t enough, because here comes the big intangible: the interview. Not everyone interviews well. They can’t even decide on whether to recruit based on competency or personality (big hint: it should be the former). They don’t even answer the question:
“As with most arguments, no one theory has all the answers and the middle ground is often the firmest. Both schools of thought have something to offer, so perhaps the best approach would be to take something from each.”
While they try to say “both things have something to offer” it still leaves the question wide open to interpretation, which people who dispense career advice can spin to fit their agendas, and chances are no two answers will be the same (at best) or contradictory (at worst).
So, why freelance?
Freelancing gives you the flexibility to work on your own terms, without a set schedule outside of firm deadlines. I can start work as early as 5 am; I can finish as late as 2 am. This is the future of work, and I strongly and firmly believe in freeing people from rigid schedules set by others.