The world of work has evolved quickly and substantially over the past few years. This has led to freelancing becoming more and more common, attracting large numbers of workers seeking a new challenge. When you think of a freelancer, you probably think of a young yet experienced professional with an appetite for adventure and independence. But more and more people are going freelance after gaining some years of experience. According to a 2018 U.S. study by The Freelancers Union and Upwork , more than 30% of workers aged 55 and above worked on at least one freelance project in 2018. These figures are unsurprising considering that freelancing has been widespread in the U.S for many years. It is thus far from uncommon to come across freelancers in their fifties. In this article, we’ll explore the unique aspects and strengths of those who turn to freelancing later in life.
A choice or an obligation?
On one hand, freelancing seems like a good option because it allows workers to enjoy greater flexibility, choose which projects they work on, stay in their preferred field and the environment they are most comfortable in. Some workers want to reduce their hours gradually, and freelancing gives them that flexibility. Some decide to follow a more traditional career path, whilst others choose freelancing. The reasons for becoming a freelancer include having the choice of which projects to work on and variation, gaining independence, getting a change of scene and becoming your own boss. Going freelance in your fifties may also seem simpler. Those in their fifties may find work more easily thanks to their former clients, friends, families and professional networks built up over their career. They can also make good use of the know-how they’ve accumulated. In this type of case, freelancing is a choice. It is quite common to become an independent consultant after a certain number of years of professional experience.
On the other hand, freelancing may seem like the only plausible way to stay in work for some over-50s. Ageism being rife, becoming independent could be a great career opportunity for exploring new sources of income. Flexibility and team turnover within companies is often to the detriment of the oldest employees, which pushes them into precarious situations quicker than their younger counterparts. Finding work at 50 is more difficult due to a much higher demand for young workers. Switching from employed to self-employed at 50 requires a lot of motivation and willpower, but testimonies prove that it’s worth the effort! Freelancers in their fifties are more experienced and thus have more clearly defined expectations. They can make better-informed decisions and will be able to organize themselves quicker to start their new professional activity and find potential clients.
A new twist?
With the retirement age rising every year, another new trend is emerging: going freelance in pursuit of a career change. Some workers in their fifties, weary of the job they’ve had for years, decide to go independent and switch to something completely different for personal reasons, such as a desire to try something new, curiosity, feeling like they’ve gained enough expertise. Others may make the switch for financial reasons. Freelancing becomes an opportunity to turn a corner in their career, whilst seeking out new professional experiences.
Tips before starting out
The questions to ask yourself before going freelance are the same, no matter your age. Nonetheless, if you want to go for it, you should showcase the know-how you’ve accumulated over your professional career in order to ensure this new challenge goes as smoothly as possible. For a start, your CV will be extensive, meaning you can highlight the projects you’ve completed in line with those you are looking for in order to attract potential clients’ attention. These elements are important for recruiters.
Next, your activity on social networks such as LinkedIn will allow you to build your online reputation. Don’t hesitate to make the most of your professional network and contact former colleagues or managers who could potentially introduce you to interesting projects. Your age is a valuable resource that you should underline in your applications, in order to showcase your expertise and the projects that you’ve been entrusted with in the past.
Finally, it is paramount that you keep yourself up to date with your domain. Your expertise can only be reinforced through gaining new skills in line with the evolution of the market and the field in which you are working. You have every reason to stay in the race, especially because of your comparative advantage. It may seem more difficult to go freelance after 50, but you’ll have more to contribute than most freelancers on the market!
To sum up, going freelance in your fifties may seem like a risky bet, but as it turns out, that’s a common myth. It’s certainly a growing trend in the world of work and it will allow you to showcase the value of your expertise in the eyes of many clients who no longer hesitate to use freelancers’ services. Furthermore, there are plenty of digital platforms to support you through your freelancing adventure.
With the world of work undergoing vast change, becoming a freelancer is a hotly-debated topic. What are the reasons to go freelance? What challenges do freelancers face? What advice do you need…
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