Ask the cubicle expat: Is it okay if my future employer knows that I ultimately want to be a full-time freelancer?

February 26th, 2009

Kate asks: If you’re not quite ready to quit your day job…or in my case, if I’m just about to graduate college and plan on getting a “real” job before transitioning to full-time freelancing, would it hurt my chances with future employers if they know that I ultimately want to be a freelancer? My Dad was looking over my LinkedIn profile and mentioned that he thought it wasn’t a great idea for future employers to know that I eventually want to work for myself. Do you think that a magazine wouldn’t hire me for that reason?

I answer: This is a great, great question. I wouldn’t tell them. At all. Or put that detail on LinkedIn. It’s just like saying, “I think your magazine is a nice way to pass the time for now, but I really want to go into veterinary medicine.” It’s a turnoff to an employer. It basically screams that you’re out of there as soon as you get your big freelancing break, which is not a message you want to convey.

Just say you want to be a writer (or editor, designer, or whatever it is you want to be) and keep your dream of full-time freelancing on the down low. If you do pick up a bit of freelancing work on the side while at your 9-to-5 gig and your coworkers catch wind of it, just play it off as something you’re doing because you need more money (don’t we all?) and because you’re looking to beef up your skills.

Before you freelance on the side, make sure your day job doesn’t have a “no moonlighting” clause in your employment contract. This could prevent you from freelancing in the same industry that your employer’s in, at least while you’re still working for that employer.

Entry Filed under: Ask the Cubicle Expat

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Andy Drish  |  March 2nd, 2009 at 6:33 am

    I whole-heartedly agree with your answer. Especially when we’re having an economic crisis like now.

    If your employer knows that you want to be on your own, when it’s time to start cutting employees, you might be cut instead of the employee who does worse work… but plans to be there for a long time.

    Great thoughts.

  • 2. Yaritsa  |  March 3rd, 2009 at 7:32 am

    Agreed, agreed, agreed! An employer doesn’t want to spend time teaching someone the ropes, investing time and money on someone who’s going to leave the minute they get the chance. Everyone has big dreams, but until they’re ready to come true, you still need your day job.

    Excellent question and excellent response.

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Hi, my name's Michelle Goodman and I've been freelancing since 1992. I'm author of My So-Called Freelance Life and The Anti 9-to-5 Guide. Read my full bio here.

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