From Freelancer to Employee – Is That A Wise Move?

A friend of mine has been freelancing and building up her network of contacts. She’s been particularly successful in the last year or so, succeeding in carving herself out a good niche locally. When one of her freelance clients (a franchise) offered her a full-time job with a year’s contract, she leaped at it and said ‘yes’.

Although the offer comes at a good time for her, and it gives her stability for at least the next twelve months, I’m not so sure I’d be tempted. These are some of the issues that I’d be concerned about and being someone who has been freelancing, and self-employed for almost two decades, I will try to be as reasonable, and rational with my concerns.

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1. Widespread clients

Putting all your eggs into one basket is something most freelancers tend to avoid. If you have multiple income streams from multiple clients, you’re less likely to hurt too badly even if you lose one of them. With the current economic situation in seemingly unstoppable freefall, how do you know that your new employer won’t also go to the wall? How sure you are about your fate 12 months later?

2. Uncertain future

Nothing moves faster than a hungry job seeker after a job. If my friend gives up her freelance clients now, the chances are she’s going to find it hard to pick them up again if her job ends after 12 months. Will she be able to get new ones? How long will it take her to build up her network to at least its present level?

3. Lack of freedom

By work freedom I don’t mean the “I don’t want to get out of bed this morning so won’t go to work” myth but “I can’t choose projects where I’m going to develop my experience and skills”. Is she stalling her potential career by not being able to choose new learning experiences in this new job?

4. Adapting to being an employee

Regular hours, and regular pay – are obviously appealing aspects of paid employment. But there are also downsides that need to be weighed up. Some people are just not suited to company work, and find offices and office culture oppressive.

5. Doing it for security only

The job isn’t exactly what my friend wants at the moment, although she’s hoping her responsibilities might expand into something more interesting. It’s a risk though. In my experience, boredom on the job ends up as real unhappiness after a few months. If your heart isn’t in it, is the risk worth taking?

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