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Jenny Dalgleish

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Tips for Transitioning from Freelance to Salaried Full-Time Employment

Some of the most talented professionals in the world, launch part-time freelance consulting businesses as a side source of income.  While freelance work often offers benefits like increased lifestyle balance, and schedule flexibility, it also involves many risks, including income adversity, lack of health and wellness benefits and other perks that come with a corporate career.

It is not uncommon for marketing, graphic design or advertising talents to ‘try their hand’ at self-employment.  However, as personal needs change, even successful freelancers may decide to make the transition back to corporate work and salaried employment.  The culture and lifestyle shift is an important consideration, and there are other factors that should be strategically evaluated before freelancers attempt to re-enter full-time employment with one organization.

In this article, we will provide actionable advice for self-employed professionals, to help plan that transition (before you begin your job search), and weigh flexible options and career opportunities that can help apply entrepreneurial talent and bent, toward a successful salaried career.

Why Freelancers Are Moving Back to Corporate Work

When the global economy is robust, it encourages professionals who are interested in self-employment, to explore alternative options.  The ability for freelancers to market their skills to businesses worldwide, is further supported by skilled labor shortages in high-demand sectors and regions.  Technology professionals, including programmers, code writers and creative talents can successfully transition from a part-time freelance income (while they are employed), to working full-time as a freelance service provider or advisor.

In the United States, changes and challenges to private healthcare, and rising costs of healthcare insurance premiums, are starting to change the value proposition for freelance professionals. Without corporate sponsored group health plans, workers find themselves facing average costs of healthcare insurance that can range from $500 per month (per person), to over $1,000 per month (depending on health conditions and care needs).   This factor alone, appears to be influencing a return to the security of salaried employment for skilled professionals.

Another factor that influences the decision to move back to salaried employment, is finance.  While freelance professionals become skilled at navigating the high and low-income potential of being a contract employee, lending as a self-employed individual, can be tenuous.  Getting a loan, or a mortgage can be more difficult, or costly, as lending institutions (perhaps unfairly) view a self-employed individual as a higher risk, than a full-time salary employed worker.

A recent survey “Freelancing in America: 2016” revealed that both full and part-time freelancers make up 35% of the American workforce (a statistic that has been growing exponentially every year).  The survey estimated that the total number of freelancers based in the United States alone, topped 55 million in 2016, earning over $1 trillion dollars.

It is this growth, and increased competition for contract work, that is also influencing the influx of freelance professionals back to traditional, salaried employment.  While demand for contract labor remains high in the U.S., the availability of freelance professionals has put downward pressure on service fees.   American based freelancers are also competing against the rapidly expanded global market of professionals, at times, making work harder to source.

Are Organizations Interested in Hiring Former Freelance Professionals?

Recruiters know that the average freelance professional has highly competitive skills, which can make them an ideal hire for any organization.  Freelancers tend to be excellent at time management, and highly productive, often requiring little to no supervision, given their background.

Assisting businesses and clients remotely, also enhances other core soft skills, including project management, communication and organizational skills.   Freelance professionals are frequently articulate, hardworking and results driven individuals, who can become a strong asset to any team.

There is some skepticism or hesitation, to hire someone who has had a lengthy tenure as a contract worker or freelance professional.   Employers have concerns regarding retention, when it comes to an employee who has demonstrated that they can be successfully self-employed.  Another concern regards the potential for the new hire to ‘moonlight”, or use paid employer time for contract work, as most freelancers retain some client work, even after they are hired into a new full-time employer role.

Employers who have these concerns about hiring a freelancer for a salaried position, can get expert advice from our recruiters, in terms of non-disclosure and non-compete contracts, that can help to eliminate some of the risk and concerns.   In our experience, freelance professionals quickly become a valued asset to the team, and should not be overlooked as a skilled resource.

Tips for Freelancers Preparing for the Transition to Salaried Work

If you are a freelance professional, ready to make the switch back to salaried employment with a single organization, much of the adjustment will be in the areas of scheduling, and re-learning how to work under supervision, and managerial guidance.

Freelancers should be prepared to:

  1. Invest time getting to know colleagues, supervisors and managers and onboard to the social culture of the business environment.
  2. Embrace the idea that sometimes, extra hours (without additional compensation) may be a factor.  Salaried workers are expected to contribute more time for the same pay, as required by the organization.
  3. Reschedule to allow for travel time, in-office time and special events.
  4. Assume new costs and expenses, including parking, transportation, meals on-the-go and work wardrobe.

The option to rejoin the workforce in a traditionally structured role, is always available for successful freelance professionals.  If working with a recruiter, be sure to discuss your career goals and intentions, to help eliminate interview bias.  If you tried freelancing, and found your preference is to be employed with one organization, share that discovery with your interviewers, to address concerns over retention, moonlighting and other employer concerns.   Most employers find former freelance experience to be indicative of performance excellence, entrepreneurial and leadership talent, which can help make their organization more competitive. It’s not a negative, it is a plus in terms of hiring.

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