If you’re a marketing or public relations professional you have the advantage of being able to keep your skills polished and earn some money by freelancing, a.k.a., by securing and completing contract assignments.
The same bad economy that has decreased the number of good job openings, whatever level you’re at in your career, has led many firms to seek reliable contractors who can work on call and produce quality work. I’ve developed customer newsletters with style sheets and strategic topic summaries, developed and executed publicity plans, and written marketing and advocacy materials, news releases, and business proposals, by the job and by the hour.
If you freelance, remember that every assignment is a chance to build your portfolio and make a positive impression; keep comprehensive, dated records of earnings and all expenses; and get a good accountant to keep it all legal.
A strong plan and writing samples portfolio assembled over my career has helped me show as well as tell (and sell) my capabilities. Since I decided to finish my MBA and make a job change, my freelance assignments primarily have come through networking efforts focused on finding the job seekers’ Mecca – a full time, well paying position with benefits, doing work you like in a collaborative environment, with a great boss and coworkers however you define ‘great’. (You may as well aim high.)
If job hunting is like dating, freelancing is like living together. It can lead to marriage, a continued relationship, or a break-up. If it leads to a full time job offer from a client you have grown to love – hurrah. If it just helps pay the bills until something better comes along, that’s not bad either. If or when the relationship ends, hopefully both parties have gained (or learned) something useful, and move on.
For me, freelancing has lessened the pressure to take “any job,” to keep creditors at bay. It’s helping me to hold out for my Prince Charming – the right job for me – and I am most appreciative of the clients whose assignments are making that possible.