How the rise of freelancers is changing your career options

Finding your way in the world of “work” used to be a lot more conventional. You’d get a good full-time job, take on a salary with paid benefits and have annual reviews. You might stay with that company your whole life, and move up the ranks over the years if you’re lucky.

But the face of the workforce has changed dramatically since the 70s—the average millennial job-hops every couple of years, and people are feeling more and more empowered to persist until they find a career they love.

For nearly half the working population these days, that translates into being a free agent.

Freelancers and full-timers together in perfect harmony

In her book, Navigating the Talent Shift, consultant Lisa Hufford says soon 40 to 50 percent of the population won’t be in full-time jobs, meaning firms will have to start reworking their approach to hiring if they want to access the right banks of talent for their projects.

Employers will increasingly need to consider what tasks they need done, not necessarily what roles they want filled, and divvy them up accordingly. We’ll see more examples of regular staff working alongside freelancers to get projects done.

The reins are in your hands, dude

The great news is that those who prefer a more holistic synergy of career and life will gain the control and freedom to concoct their own working arrangements.

One example is Hufford herself, who made the decision a decade ago, after 14 years working in big corporations including Microsoft, that she wanted a more flexible schedule to be with her young kids—and so she set herself up in business.

Another example is our very own web developer at True Calling. When we decided to look for an in-house web guru, it required diving into a talent bank of freelancers, due to the rising number of web developers opting for independent work. Now our highly skilled coding mastermind, Brittany, still maintains her freelance clients on the side while adding to our company culture in-office and working from home when it best suits her.

Take your pick

The forms that independent work can take are varied, and in Hufford’s book she describes the five ways you could be a free agent in the workforce:

1. Independent contractors

This option makes up 36 per cent of the independent workforce in the United States. Traditional freelancers don’t have an employer, instead taking on freelance, temporary or supplemental assignments on a project-by-project basis—much like Lisa Hufford does.

2. Moonlighters

Filling out 25 per cent of the independent workforce, moonlighters are those with a primary, traditional job with an employer but who also spend their free time doing freelance work. Brittany fits into this category.

3. Diversified workers

26 per cent of the independent workforce, these folks have multiple sources of income from a mix of traditional and freelance work. You’d be classified as a diversified worker, for instance, if you split your time between working reception part time at a car dealership and writing freelance for a blog.

4. Temporary workers

9 per cent of the independent workforce has a temporary status with a single employer, client, job or contract. So when your friend says they’re doing “temp” work for three months at a data management company through a staffing agency, that’s what they’re talking about.

5. Freelance business owners

The small 5 per cent of independent workers have one or more employees and consider themselves both a freelancer and a business owner. Basically, it’s a level up from independent contractor.

Non-discriminating benefits

While being a free agent may be more and more popularized, you don’t have to be one yourself to benefit from the shifting face of the workforce.

As employers become more flexible with how they look at staffing their projects, you can take the opportunity to set your own boundaries for a work arrangement that suits your lifestyle, even as a full-time worker.

The key here is to be aware of the changing landscape, and let the increasing freedom help guide your hand for a more satisfying experience in work and life.


Written by Carly Walde