Is it just me, or does anyone else break out in a cold sweat (or hives) at the thought of working a “nine to five?” Please don’t think I’m some self-employed snob. I worked in a corporate environment for eight years, and I‘ll admit that I’ve sometimes wondered whether it would be easier to get a guaranteed check every week, employer provided benefits and paid time off for vacations, there’s nothing more satisfying to me than being able to provide those things for myself.
Why am I even discussing this? Well, something interesting happened to me this week. I was doing some marketing late Tuesday evening, contacting prospects by email about my services, when I unexpectedly received a response email from a company’s Human Resource Manager. She asked whether or not I would consider employment status over working for her company as a contract writer.
Her question caught me off guard for a moment. On the one hand I was being offered the promise of reliable pay and work, but at what cost? I know we’re still dealing with financially troubled times right now, and some might be reading this wondering what kind of idiot stands around questioning a steady pay check? Well I’ll tell you what kind.
My background is in the newspaper industry. Although I left my job before the industry truly crumbled, my position provided a front row seat to the unpredictability of working for someone else. Some of my coworkers had worked for this publication for 20+ years. This publication had a well-earned reputation as a place where employees stuck around until retirement. Then came the Internet, and around 2000, it’s presence was felt as print’s biggest revenue source was threatened – advertising. I could see the writing on the wall as I left. Unfortunately, many of my coworkers continued to be lulled into a false sense of security and the mass layoffs caught them off guard. My inability to pay child care for my soon to be newborn twins and two year old was the catalyst that led me to resign, otherwise I may have ignored the signs and continued working along with everyone else hoping for the best.
I have a family, so naturally the idea of security appeals to me; but my life also requires a great deal of flexibility. Even though this Human Resource Manager was offering me an opportunity to work from home, a flexible work schedule wasn’t part of the deal. And maybe I’m spoiled now, but I don’t want to be obligated to work on projects that don’t work for me.
So in the end I politely explained to the HR manager that I prefer to maintain a freelance status, and am always open to other opportunities. She seemed okay with my response and offered to pass my name along to the person in charge of hiring freelancers and other vendors.
I’ve been freelancing for five years now. I’ve seen my share of financially tight months, but I’ve managed to stick with it and find a groove that provides a contentment and security my old job could not. Working for several clients feels more financially secure to me than relying on one job, so sticking to my freelance writer status works best for me.
What would you do? Would you choose a full-time or part-time position over freelancing?