“I am freelancing so I can continue to grow in my knowledge & experience. But, perception issues and bias against freelancers are some of the issues I still face. Delivering high performance is the way to counter these issues.”
After more than eleven years of full-time roles in HR Advisory, Research and Knowledge Development, I decided to move into freelance work. The primary driver for that was the lack of flexibility that a typical full-time role or job has. I wanted a balanced life where I could spend time with my little baby as well as pursue my career. My intent was very clear – I did not want to take a 100% break from my career since working in my areas of expertise kept me connected to the business world, as well as allowed me to learn new skills that a full-time role didn’t. That is when freelancing became the way I wanted to work. It has been 5 years now since 2014 when I first became a freelancer and a whole lot of learning.
Some of the challenges that I faced as a freelancer and continue to face even now are – perception issues, non-competitive pay and lack of good quality projects. Let me explain these a bit and what I tried to do to help me overcome them.
Perception issues about those who are working independently, or from home, or even women with little children, are very prevalent. I work in Diversity & Inclusion too and I know that organizations / individuals carry a bias at times about whether a freelancer will meet the performance standards or deadlines. The only way to overcome is to remain committed and professional. If I commit to a time for a call or meeting, I am there a little ahead of time. If I have to send a deliverable at a certain time or day, I ensure that it is sent. Performance is the only thing that can counter this perception.
Non-competitive pay is a challenge that is market driven. There are many companies who still think that physical presence in office is what needs to be valued more than how the person performs, no matter where he or she is working from. That results in pay differentials. Emphasizing on the role that one plays in a project and clear scoping of responsibilities to be carried out are ways that have worked for me to mitigate this challenge.
Good quality projects are few and far between. Many organizations do not do a fitment of expertise levels to the work that they assign, for a freelancer. My concern is that the organizations do not realize that I am not freelancing as a stop-gap arrangement.
I am freelancing so that I can continue to grow in my knowledge and experience, just as I would in a full-time career. So the project should use my current expertise levels in an optimal way. I have overcome this by being a part of platforms such as Noble House where there are already scoping discussions that have taken place with the client, and I am matched to a project in a way that ensures that my expertise adds value to them.