Choosing to leave a permanent job and striking out solo is a tough choice to make. For most people, working independently is a wishful dream that they aim for but never really go through with it. And the biggest deterrent to that is the dreaded word – security. Less job security is often cited as one of the most common downsides of becoming an independent consultant. However, that trend is now changing with freelancing actually being acknowledged as a legit and safe career path.
In a recent HBR blog, Whitney Johnson describes how career disruption is now an inevitable part of the corporate landscape. The interesting finding is that deciding to freelance is not an option that is forced upon people, but instead a choice 57% ‘independents’ in America willingly made. Financial independence can be achieved by undertaking consulting and freelancing opportunities. Since one is paid according to the duration of work, one can choose to dial up or dial down depending on personal needs and circumstances faced. In freelancing, what you earn is only limited only by how much you work or charge.
In today’s economic scenario, job security is a myth. There is often a perception that it is safer to stick to one’s job during a recessionary climate. However, independent consultants actually stand to benefit when everyone is becoming more cost conscious. They offer value for money and are more flexible, making it a more attractive option.
Apart from the financial implications, freelance opportunities and independent consulting reduce risk in other ways too. It helps to create a stronger network of contact since one is constantly meeting and interacting with new people. Those with stable jobs might not place such importance on building contacts, but a freelancer builds a strong and established network which can be relied upon during tough times.
It also leads to better work output since you are in charge of what you do and get more assignments on the basis of your prior work. With a constant struggle to improve yourself and perform to your potential, the quality of work might witness a substantial jump since it is a reflection of yourself. This is often missing in the corporate culture where red-tapism and hierarchy often stifle the creativity and growth of an individual.
The employment outlook for the coming year, though upbeat, is still considerably weaker than what it was a year ago. According to a survey by the Manpower Group, there is more uncertainty about the hiring plans of employers and the employment outlook has weakened by 18% compared to last year in all seven industry sectors and in all four regions. Finance, Insurance and Real Estate sector along with the Services sector outlook witnessed a decline of twenty percentage points. This is not just confined to the Indian labor market. Twenty-nine out of the forty-two countries surveyed report weaker forecasts compared to last year and hiring plans have declined in twenty-one countries.
Combining the upside of working independently with the current employment scenario, it is quite clear why freelancing is becoming less risky. Added to that the benefits of better work, more control over your time, a stronger network of contacts and more satisfaction, it is actually quite a compelling option.