I’ve got a permanent job but am considering freelancing. What are the pros and cons?

We would never advise someone to resign from a perm role to freelance simply because there is never a guarantee of regular work, particularly in this economic climate.  However, if your mind is made up then there are a few things you should consider:

  • Setting yourself up as a Limited Company.  As many companies have a policy where they will not  engage sole traders it is often necessary to consider operating through your own Limited Company. It is quick and simple to form your own Company but we would always recommend that you seek professional assistance to guide you through the legal, tax and accounting requirements. If structured correctly a Limited Company can be very effective for tax.  However, there are downsides as you would have no automatic entitlement to holiday or sick pay and you will need to budget for the professional fees for dealing with the initial formation of the Company and the ongoing tax and accounting requirements.
  • Answer your phone!  When your recruiter receives a freelance role it’s all hands to the pumps and they will call everyone who is available for work.  Those that answer the phone are briefed and submitted to the client first and in many cases, if the client is super busy, they may hire on the spot, so speed is of the essence.
  • Building your network.  Utilise all your network to ensure you have the best chance of receiving regular contracts.  This includes registering with reliable recruiters and speaking to people you’ve worked with in the past.  Freelancing in this market can be lucrative, but you need to keep your network updated with your availability.
  • One of the cons of freelancing is that while you are brought in to work on specific projects the skills you learn as a permanent employee which progress your career are often lost.  Many freelancers self-promote but it’s important that you are aware of any skill gaps as you continue to freelance and use any opportunities possible to keep your experience up to date.
  • Freelancing doesn’t suit everyone.  It can offer a better work /life balance but it can be extremely stressful, particularly if you find yourself out of work for a few weeks.  Similarly always being the ‘newbie’ isn’t everyone’s cup of tea!
  • Lastly, as a freelancer you have to accept that you might end up taking on duties which are below or above your level of expertise.  You have to learn not to be too proud to make the tea or be honest and say that you don’t know how to do something.

Go back to the Careers Advice page.

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