More People Pursue Freelance and Contract Work

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Nashville, Tenn. — April 7
With both the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed continuing to increase, more people are turning to contract work, freelancing and consulting, at least until they can find a more permanent position, and especially if they are older, according to OI Partners, a global career transition and coaching firm.

The unemployment rate now stands at 8.5 percent, with 13.2 million people unemployed. Nationwide, there are only about 3 million new jobs available. That is an average of more than four applicants for every job opening, twice as many applicants per job opening than when the recession began in December 2007, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

“Instead of trying to get hired for scarce full-time jobs at the present, more people are pursuing alternative ways to make a living and pay the bills,” said Mark Leathers, chairman of OI Partners.

“Consulting, contract work and freelancing are especially popular among professionals who can work out of their homes, requiring modest start-up money. They can sometimes acquire former employers as their new clients. Many people ages 50 and up who have been laid off before and are having a more difficult time finding employment, are exploring various ways to become their own bosses,” Leathers added.

OI Partners offers the following tips to people thinking about exploring contract work, consulting or freelance arrangements:

  • Reach out to those who know your work best, and inform them about your new self-employment enterprise. Prime targets would include your former employers, particularly your most recent company, and networking contacts.
  • Try to specialize in a few subject areas. Choose subjects that you know best and can successfully compete for business in.
  • Assemble a portfolio showcasing your talents and experience. Customize the portfolio to highlight your relevant experience within the same industry and/or with the same type of company as each business prospect you contact.
  • Find out what the prevailing hourly or project rate is in your area for your type of work, and undercut it if you can. Choose an hourly rate or project cost that will enable you to be profitable. But you also want to ensure that you get in the door and start doing business with your target.
  • Before spending money on advertising or direct marketing, use social networking Web sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and others to announce your new venture. Also spread the word via e-mails and text messages to your networking contacts, former colleagues, friends and family.
  • Volunteer your services to a nonprofit, civic or religious group to make business contacts and promote your enterprise.
  • Build a Web site that will give you an Internet presence. Don't expect to initially get much business from the Internet, but refer potential clients to your Web site for more information about what you do.
  • Closely investigate and comply with all applicable local, state and federal permit, license and tax rules and laws. Hire legal and accounting professionals to ensure compliance with these if needed.
  • Take a part-time job during non-business hours, if necessary, until your self-employment arrangement is generating sufficient income.
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