October 23rd, 2008
From today’s ABCNews.com column…
People keep asking me, “Isn’t it scary to not have an employer and steady paycheck in this economy?”
As a freelancer, I get paid by about half a dozen companies each month. So job security is not something I fret too much about. If one client dries up, as happens at least once a year (if not once a quarter), I have four or five other sources of income to rely on. And while my nine-to-five counterparts might spend the better part of a year looking for work in the wake of a layoff, my pavement-pounding phase usually lasts all of two to three weeks, if that.
I’ve been through financial fallouts before as a freelancer. OK, maybe not the “worst financial crisis since the Depression.” But I was self-employed when the dotcom bubble burst in 2000, taking much of my freelance work with it, and after 9/11, when many staff and freelance budgets vanished seemingly overnight. Both times, I spit-polished my resume, hit the online highway and came up with a new set of clients and projects.
And while I know that the rapid-fire freelance job hunt can’t compare to the umpteen weeks and financial and emotional toll that looking for a staff position takes, I can’t help but think that full-time job hunters could learn a trick or two from their scrappier self-employed counterparts.
In an economic climate like this, you can’t entrust your fate to the employers and hiring managers. Not when you have a mortgage to pay and a family to feed. You have to be proactive, flexible, enterprising, even bootstrapping.
In short, you have to operate like a free agent.