This time of year can be a challenging one for freelances for quite a few reasons.
Historically, December has always been the one month that has been hardest to forecast. There have been some years in the past where things have gone quiet early on as it slides into the end of the year, while there have been other years where I've been busy filling jobs while shoving my lunch down at our work Christmas party. You can just never guess what it is going to be like!
This year is no exception. I can tell from the number of calls and messages that I'm getting from Melbourne's freelancers that it might be a little on the quiet side although even the past week has felt like there is more going on than there has been in the weeks just past. Could we see a ramp up as we get closer to the end of the year? Who knows!
It isn't too dissimilar to what we experienced last year and, like last year, I personally predict that we're probably going to find a pretty full on and hectic new year awaiting us.
With this in mind, it is more important than ever NOW for professional creative freelancers to take care of a few important issues to help ensure that they get the best opportunities as they come up over the coming weeks regardless of if it is crazy busy out there or a little more modest.
Take these tips and you'll have had the time to review, refine, create and update what you need to ensure you are in front of all the best opportunities that the new year has to bring.
It's time to update
If you're working through a few recruitment agencies, chances are that the information they have on file for you might be a little out of date. I know that if I'm talking to clients, sending through CV's that are dated 2018 is now nearly two years old. It will raise obvious questions and understandably so.
Now, when you're a professional creative freelancer, I get that you won't always have time on your side. You won't always have the opportunity to take home examples of the work that you have worked on, nor may you even have permission to use those examples. Ensuring that things are up to date can often feel quite challenging. This is why it might be wise to consider what kind of process you can implement personally in the new year to ensure that you do ask for permission to use some of those great assignments within your folio. If you're going through a recruitment agency, you should ask your recruitment consultant to contact the client on your behalf to ask for that however it will be time sensitive and that's where having your own process of check points to follow is going to be valuable.
When it comes to your CV, there are a few things you'll want to consider.
- Is the design of the CV still current and contemporary? Trends will changes as well and is your CV meeting those trends to show that you've got your finger on the pulse.
- If you've maintained a life as a professional creative freelancer, you could ensure that your date is listed as '[year started] – present' instead of having the current year.
- What new skills have you learned since the last update? Especially in the digital space.
- What new kinds of clients or industries have you worked in? You may not want to list clients but you might want to talk about the professional growth you've had in that time.
- What achievements have you had since the last update? How do you know that you're good at your job?
- What kind of continued professional development have you had since the last update? I tend to find the best creatives are the ones who take their continued professional development seriously.
- Ensure that if you have any URL links or email links in your CV, they're hyperlinked. There is nothing more frustrating that trying to copy and paste or retype URL's (especially when they're long) because you haven't made it as easy as a click.
The CV needs to be designed and created in a way that is an easy experience for whoever is viewing it. Key points should jump off the page and external information should be just a click away. If it isn't dong that, then it's a fail.
Ultimately, your CV is a selling tool that is meant to convey not only what your skills and achievements are but also your personal brand. Given that the average length of time a CV has to convince a hiring manager that you're right for the job is only six seconds, it is important to invest some time into this to get it right.
Update your professional online information
Approach your LinkedIn profile like you would a web page and ensure that the SEO and keywords are there for you to be found.
Post blogs and repost articles on your niche area of interest. If you're keen to do packaging, write something on packaging and get it out there. Engage with people. Show them that you're passionate about what you do. The fact is that nowadays, when there are lots of people who do what you do, the point of difference needs to be who you are.
Likewise, if you're using websites like Behance for your folio, ensure that they're up to date with the most current pieces and that the manky old annual report you did in 2009 is finally retired, no matter how much you love it.
Check to make sure that your website is actually still up and running and compatible with web browser updates. I can't begin to tell you how often I click on a URL link in a CV only to find that the website no longer exists, the URL has expired or is password protected. If you're making it too hard for people to see your work, they're not going to hire you.
Update your recruitment consultant
This is the ideal time of year to reach out to your recruitment consultant and update them, even if you haven't spoken to them for a little while.
Now is the time to send through your updated CV and folio. You might want to include a little bit to them about what new areas you've become specialised in as this will help them to keep you in mind for future opportunities that are similar and suitable.
You might want to let them know what your plans are for the end of year period. Some people will want to take those two weeks off (this year, Monday December 23rd returning Monday January 6th 2020) while others may be more than happy to hear about last minute freelance opportunities that come in.
You may also want to let them know what your plans and goals are for 2020. Are you thinking now is the right time to find that perfect permanent position? Have you actually become a freelancer but forgot to tell them and open to short term work opportunities? Have you been placed in a contract that is due to finish around February 2020 and will want them to keep an eye out for something? All these are valid reasons to send your recruitment consultant an update so that they know what is happening for you.
Keep in mind that most recruitment consultants meet literally HUNDREDS of people every year and that it can be hard for them to ensure they maintain regular meaningful communication. If you haven't heard from someone for a little while, don't take it personally – I know most consultants wish they had the time to maintain that level of communication but if they spent that time just calling freelancers, they would never have any time to find and fill jobs. Be proactive with your consultant, aware of the challenges they face too, and know that they're working with your absolute best interests in mind.