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4 reasons why young professionals are turning to freelancing

young professionals are becoming freelancers4 reasons why young professionals are becoming freelancers

Whether they’ve been made redundant or decided that they no longer want to be someone else’s employee, 8.9 million people in Europe have chosen a freelancing career over traditional employment.

Millennials and Generation Y-ers in particular have been making the decision to ditch the 9-5 in order to go it alone. With freelancing having the ability to open up career paths and possibilities that may have otherwise been unavailable to graduates and 20-somethings, many have been using the freedom offered by this employment option to build a career that is both fulfilling and lucrative.

Triggers for going freelance

With the freelance industry seeing such a well-documented growth as full-time employment has taken a dramatic turn in the opposite direction, the reasons for graduates and young professionals are becoming freelancers have grown to include:

Redundancy or fear of being laid off:

Young professionals who have been made redundant often seize the opportunity to try something new. Freelancing is usually a popular option as it gives them a chance to call the shots on their own career and make the most of the current high demand.

An increasing number of employers no longer want to make staffing commitments or recruit too many full-timers, so further opportunities are opening up for flexible workers. With more and more contracts becoming available, redundant professionals have a great chance to develop a successful freelancing role at present, where they will have full control over their career and its future.

A need to grow and develop:

With fewer full-time jobs on the market and less career growth opportunities in businesses, young professionals now have less of a chance to progress within a single organisation.

This lack of development opportunities has left many young professionals disillusioned with full-time employment, causing many to turn to seek out alternatives. Freelancing is one of the employment options young professionals turn to as they can choose to focus on a particular niche or develop a particular skill, and exercise complete control over any future training they wish to embark.

Exploration of possible career paths:

Young people and graduates will typically be unaware of exactly what they want to do with their future. Rather than getting tied down to one profession early on, which they may later regret, freelancing gives young professionals the freedom to try out different areas in a particular industry before settling on a niche.

The well-documented rise of the flexible worker has also opened people’s eyes to careers they may have previously dismissed as being unattainable. From blogger and vlogger roles to web and product design positions, freelancing provides skilled professionals with a chance to break into industries where full-time roles are few and far between, while providing more opportunities to those living outside of main cities.

Entrepreneurial opportunities:

Many young professionals will often choose to transition from flexible worker to business owner, using freelancing as a starting block that allows them to gain experience in self-employment and build upon their industry knowledge.

For entrepreneurial professionals, freelancing also gives them an opportunity to test out the waters, develop contacts in their industry and discover a lucrative niche to build upon. They are then able to use the experience, connections and knowledge gained to go into business with the foundations already laid.

The radical growth in the freelancing industry marks a shift in the employment options available to and favoured by young professionals. With employers becoming even more open to the possibility of recruiting flexible workers as opposed to full-time staff, the career path is not just one that is providing people with the freedom to follow their passions, but is also providing entrepreneurial-minded people with the opportunity to carve out a successful and profitable career on their own.

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About GregDillon

Greg is the founder of strategy consultancy GD | Inspires and spends his days strategising for various design agencies and clients around the world - see more at http://gdinspires.com. He is also a prolific entrepreneur having launched Strat-Talking.com - a website aimed at giving advice and insight to new, existing and veteran freelancers as well as commenting on all things strategic. Feel free to email him at: greg@gdinspires.com or follow on Twitter @StratTalking
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  • Oliver

    Good points Greg. I think there’s an associated issue which is that many businesses – particularly smaller ones – don’t provide career paths for employees. Sometimes this is beyond their control (they simply aren’t growing – by intention or circumstance) and sometimes they don’t think its important accepting that it’s the broader industry that will provide the rungs on teh ladder for career development. I think as an industry we need to get better at supporting career development and find ways to help people progress regardless of teh circumstances that they are employed in. Answering this question is something that the Design Business Association is exploring, but I would be keen to hear any thoughts on how this might be achieved, or what the requirements of any scheme would entail.

    • Greg – Strat-Talking

      Thanks for your comment Oliver, good to see you reading Strat-Talking.com :-)

      I completely agree that as an industry agencies in the broader ‘creative services’ industry (be it service design, brand design, packaging design or guardianship and innovation) don’t allocate enough time / resource to the development and nurturing of talent to help people progress.

      Taking my experience, I have been made redundant three times (hat-trick of doom one might say) but each has taught me valuable lessons both about myself – bouncebackability and persistence to succeed – and also about the industry – progress by moving from company to company is more common and successful vs. rising up the ranks within a single agency.

      I don’t for a second think this is a conscious decision by any agency / management team to not nurture and grow but I think, as you allude to, that circumstances around projects needing to be done within insane timeframe parameters as well as resource availability etc. all contribute to putting structured development on the back burner until time is available, which inevitably, is often too late for juniors to feel a sense of progression.

      Oftentimes, from my work with new-to-agency strategists (through Strat-Talking and also my day to day work) has highlighted that lower ranks often feel they are doing the job of a mid- or senior for the salary of a junior leading to resentment and ultimately a change of employer.

      Would be good to discuss further Olly as it is a topic I’m quite keen to explore and help rectify, and if I can assist you and the DBA in any way to achieve this I’m more than willing.