The freelance life offers many wonderful benefits, from multiple streams of income and freedom to set your own hours to the personal pride in building a business that is all yours. It can also present difficulties including lack of team support and benefits. If you choose to pivot back into the traditional workforce, there are some challenges you must overcome through the process, from making a major career decision to adjusting to your new full-time gig job.
Here are seven considerations we discuss with candidates in your position:
Come to Terms with the Trade-offs
Regardless of which side of the fence you’re on, it can be easy to indulge in greener grass syndrome when you’re feeling stressed or dissatisfied. Don’t make a pivotal career decision when you’re in a temporary freelance lull. Take the time to go through the ups and downs and consider the transition from both perspectives. Yes, you will enjoy the stability and benefits of a full-time position, as well as the ability to move up on a defined career track if you work hard enough. But you may also miss the flexibility and freedom you enjoyed as a freelancer. Write down the pros and cons and discuss them with someone who knows you well. Involving others in your decision will enhance your clarity and confidence.
Determine Which Experiences Enable You to Solve a Company’s Problems
So you’ve decided to pursue a full-time job. Congratulations! Employers are likely to be impressed with your self-employed background and the expertise you have gained, but they may have a hard time envisioning you in a role that represents a significant departure from what you have been doing. Your job now is to find the intersections between the positions you want and your freelance experience. Much of what you have done will be irrelevant and won’t resonate with hiring managers. Identify the key problems companies are trying to solve with the new hire, and present demonstrable proof that you can be the solution in your resumes, cover letters, and interviews.
Highlight Your Lateral Skills
Lateral job skills are those which enable you to make a lateral career move, including research capabilities, project management, and communication. Working for yourself affords daily opportunities to develop these skills, often to a greater extent than people who can rely on team support. For example, successful freelancers typically have great project and time management skills, which may be vital assets in certain positions.
Accept a New Level of Influence
As a freelancer/consultant, your professional opinions may carry a lot of weight with your clients, or perhaps not much at all. Whether you are accustomed to having a certain level of authority or not, it’s likely that you will not have the same level of influence in your new job. You may find yourself in a supporting role, implementing the decisions of others without much say. Or conversely, you may be relied on for expertise more than you were in your freelance roles. Consider the level of influence you want to have before accepting a position.
Prepare for Communication Overload
Often, people who transition from freelancing to full-time jobs report noticing what seems like an inundation of communications. Whereas freelancers are typically given autonomy to complete their portions of projects, full-time workers are engaged in a much more collaborative process. This means more calls and more emails, as well as bosses looking over your shoulder and requesting updates. You may be tempted to answer them all immediately, or you may find yourself “in the zone,” and not responding quickly enough. Adjusting to this change requires finding the right communication balance fairly quickly.
Whether you were always a freelancer, or started freelancing just a few short years ago, today’s organizations operate in ways that may seem unfamiliar. To understand hierarchies, communication expectations, and how work is done, you will need to be assertive. Don’t make assumptions or take a learn-as-you-go approach; ask questions to shorten your learning curve.
Whereas asking questions is about you adapting to your new environment and team, this bit of advice is about staying true to what your employer saw in you. They hired you for good reason; you bring a lot to the table, and some of it includes your entrepreneurial spirit. Strike a balance between being the consummate team player and being a professional that works effectively with autonomy and accountability.
Are you in the process of making the freelance-to-employee transition? If you have any questions about the process, feel free to call us, or ask a question in this post on our Facebook page!