The recent economic meltdown has shaken the foundations of many institutions and made the average person question the validity of processes and organizations that were often taken for granted. Full time employment is one of those aspects of life that has come under the spotlight. Many have learned first hand that even the seemingly prosperous company with a responsible boss is not a sure sign of job security. Millions have lost their jobs globally and now that the economy is recovering, many are weary of entering full time employment once again.

Pros and Cons of Full Time Employment

Full time employment with a reputable business is seen as the norm across the world. A 9 to 5 job, average home, happy family and someday a peaceful retirement. But all this can be shattered in an instant when you receive your retrenchment letter. In a recession, getting another job is not as easy as it was when the economy was booming. So the question lies as to whether a person with skills and/or an education should subject themselves to this ‘modern day slavery’ as it is sometimes termed, or go it on their own and decide their own fate.

The average person works some 2,000 man hours per year and gets paid for another 150 man hours of vacation annually. Your company secures a steady pay check at the end of the month and when you retire, you have a small nest egg that will carry you through your golden years. But to what degree is this under your control? If your efforts are generating your employer a million dollars a year, you may only be getting $100,000 annually, if you are lucky. And you give up your ability to generate your own income for the promise of job security and financial stability in the latter years.

Job security has turned out to be the biggest lie of the modern age. No person can claim to be in secure employment. No employee can confidently state that they do not fear the axe tomorrow, even after 20 years of faithful service. And in all those years, how much of your service have you traded in the hope that you will retain your job for the next 20 years? As more employees, some retrenched and others still in full time employment, begin to realize the fragility of the modern economy, many have now opted to go it alone.

Own Business or Freelance Consultant

Of course, starting a business is no easy task. And ensuring that it stays afloat, especially during a recession, is difficult to say the least. Many skilled and educated workers have now opted for a career as a freelance consultant. In this scenario you are not employed but rather contracted on a project basis. From small business, to large corporations, a freelance consultant chooses the projects they want to work on and often gets a portion of the revenue generated by their efforts. Alternatively they can ask for premium rates to do the same job that they would have at a fraction of the rate as a full time employee.

Your hours are yours to decide. There are tight deadlines but you get to work from home. And even if one client goes bust, you can always consult for another company. It is not always the perfect setup but an established consultant can to some extent enjoy the best of both worlds. Once contracted into a project, the remuneration is decided and the client cannot renege on the deal without facing legal action. This offers some security. On the other side, the consultant is not bound to the company long term and prone to the financial woes of the client.

Becoming a freelance consultant is not an easy achievement. You have to have a marketable skill. You have to have some experience and reputation in the field. Most importantly, you have to have something to offer that is different from the rest – even if it is not a unique skill, it should be a better rate or better quality work. Your greatest asset as a freelancer is your resume or curriculum vitae that outlines your experience and abilities. Your second asset is a network of contacts in the field who either know you or know of you and would be willing to give you a project or two. Lastly, getting the right type of exposure is also important, be it through a professional website which will serve as your digital CV or media exposure as an expert consultant in the field.

If you have decided to give up the life of a full time employee for that of a freelance consultant, make sure that you are aware of all the pros and cons. Do the math, budget yourself and try to secure a project or two before you give up your full time job.

Freelance Consultant or Full Time Employee

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