A recent article in The Telegraph suggested that one in five of 2012’s graduating students face the bleak prospect of unemployment once they’ve collected their degree scroll, whilst simultaneously pointing to a growing trend by certain companies to ‘screen out’ any potential applicant carrying anything other than a first. On that basis even if you do relatively well, achieving a solid 2.1, you could still find yourself deemed unfit for a place amongst Britain’s graduate workforce.
It’s all a bit depressing. There is hope though, graduates of 2012; there’s always the option of going freelance! If you’re skilled, or carry expertise in a certain area, then the freelance option may well be worth considering.
You’ll find freelancers in just about all industries, in a variety of roles. Often companies need a helping hand completing certain projects and call on freelancers in order to see them through. Skills and assistance are often required in content writing, programming, website design and admin or finance positions. These will probably be the most common jobs you’ll find on the freelance circuit, although there’s also an abundance of journalists, graphic designers and photographers that make their money this way, too.
Although it’s not easy, some marketing savvy and a strong portfolio can quickly lead to steady work.
There will equally be lean spells though. I write as a sometime freelancer and recent graduate, who myself recently went through a lean patch. Finishing University with a dearth of freelance work on the horizon, loan funds drying up – it did prove tough, both fiscally and morally. Eventually though, after a month or so of advertising and pitching, I’ve managed to carve myself out freelance copywriting work to supplement a part-time blog writing role, doing what I want to do whilst gaining some valuable experience.
Freelance work is, of course, not for everyone. There’s not the security a full-time job often provides, nor the weekly or monthly wage. You’ll also have to carry certain personal qualities, such as organisational skills and an ability to sell you and your service effectively.
The capability to work for periods on your own is also important, although this can be countered by a spot of coworking if you’re genuinely concerned you might end up going all Tom Hanks in Castaway. There’s always the clichéd option of working in your local Starbucks, too.
Getting your head around all the tax issues can be daunting too, but really it’s a case of informing HMRC initially, letting them know that you’re self-employed, and finding your way from there.
In an age where blue-chips often resemble sinking ships, securing a job can prove harder than ever. It’s therefore always worthwhile considering the freelance option if you’re struggling, if only as a stop-gap. It illustrates to prospective employers that you’re a self-starter, motivated and shows that carry skills in your chosen area. Heck, it beats signing on.
Photo by Nickolai Kashirin