We all want to advance and further our careers and professional lives. However, we also make mistakes that might prevent us from achieving our goals.
We have sat down with our select team of hirers and freelancers and asked them about their experiences with these issues. Through various discussions, we have come up with a list of most common issues and pitfalls that freelancers could avoid in order to have a smoother career development journey.
These are our list of top 7 general mistakes that freelancers make, that prevents them from advancing their freelance career(s).
#1. Not completing your online user profile – As a freelancer, your profile is probably your greatest asset; primarily because your professional profile is the first thing that employers look at when you apply for a job.
You can write the most compelling proposal for a project or job. But without a profile to showcase your achievements, hirers would most likely be very hesitant to even consider you for the role.
The second reason your professional freelancing profile is your greatest asset is because it is what draws the first impressions of your character. Businesses are very cautious about who they outsource their projects and jobs to; especially when it comes to hiring remotely, businesses often look for reliable candidates who are confident in their abilities, organized and take their job seriously.
Even in our daily life when using social media, we rarely connect and speak with people with no profile image and description…it just seems dodgy! Now imagine that you are an employer, and have an important task that you want to outsource to someone in another part of the world…would you consider someone with no profile image, no correct information and no description of their abilities and experiences to finish the job for you?...Maybe NOT!
An incomplete profile gives hirers the impression that you are not serious about yourself you’re your career, and that you simply don’t care! Hirers will often ignore incomplete profiles completely…after all how can hirers be confident that they can trust you with an important project, when you are not even confident enough in your own abilities to list and showcase them in your profile?!
So, if you want that dream freelancing job that you were always looking for, ensure that you have completed your profile first. If it is too much, take a pen and paper, write down your skills and experiences and then organise them before typing them in your account profile. It is that simple!
#2. Not including all past experiences (whether relevant to current career path or not) – We often think that when we write a CV or complete our professional profiles, we should only include ‘relevant’ stuff…Because if you are looking for a Software Engineering position, no one wants to know about your past sales experience at ASDA, Walmart or H&M, right?...WRONG! Every experience, every little small and big thing you did in your life is valuable. That sales job you think is irrelevant, will probably include things such as interacting with customers. For a hirer, this means you have the necessary communication skills to deal with people. And all those times you had 50+ people in the queue and you had to keep it together…well that shows that you can work well under pressure. Everything that we do will give us valuable experiences that at some point will be useful. So, ensure that you include all your past experiences and achievements and you talk about them in your interview with your potential hirer.
‘Small’ experiences add up over time and the more experiences that you have, the more likely you will be to land that dream freelance job!
#3. Not taking risks and not reaching for the ‘unattainable’ – You are a junior programmer with only a couple of years of experience in Java Programming, you worked on different short-term projects and you are always up to date with the latest developments in the field. You go online and find a job for a position that requires at least 4 years of experience in Java. You immediately feel a cold sweat running down your back and you back away from applying for that job…but how will you know you’re not suitable if you do not apply? What is the harm in that? Hirers look for skills, experience, qualities, as well as an enthusiasm from you. They love working with people who are risk takers and not afraid to take a step forward, even if it is a long shot! If you can show them that you have the right knowledge, some familiarity and an unquestionable eagerness to develop your skills further, learn through experience and expand your abilities, you might find that you are exactly the type of person they are looking for. Hirers love to work with people who are serious in developing their career.
Just go ahead…hit that Apply button. You never know; you might be the EXACT right fit for the job!
#4. Not updating/upgrading your knowledge, skills and qualifications – Yes, you have a degree in Computer Science, 5 years of experience in C++, and that CPA Certification. But have you thought about how much more competitive your professional portfolio would look to potential hirers if you expand your knowledge and/or experience in other programming languages?
Tech freelancers are increasingly becoming ‘bi’ and ‘multi’ lingual these days, because they know in order to be able to deal with the most complex issues in an increasingly tech-reliant world, they need to have more than just one tool to unlock problems.
Imagine how much more likely you will be to land high-paying tech projects, or being hired by larger global businesses such as IBM, if you are certified in multiple programming languages, or have experience using various platforms, analytical applications and others tools.
Furthermore, you might be an excellent Programmer, or a star Data Scientist, but lack the necessary communication or language skills needed in the market. Just take a few courses here and there to improve these skills.
If possible, ask your previous or current hirer, employer or even friends about your weaknesses in your field and try to develop yourself and your qualifications in these areas more.
After a while, you will notice the difference just by looking at your paycheck!
#5. Taking on too much, all at once! – Whether in our professional or personal lives, we all do this at times…we try to take on more than we can handle!
You already have 2 projects with competing deadlines, you have a sick family member to take care of in your free time, oh…and that boiler you meant to get fixed 8 months ago has finally given up on you! Now you see another job posted with a nice salary…and you’re tempted to apply and take on that job too!
You take that job, too; and now you have stressful days, busy weekends and sleepless nights!
Well…soon you will realise that you have too much on your plate, you feel burnt out, exhausted and you will feel that you just can’t do it anymore. This will start to reflect on your work quality. You might not be able to meet all your deadlines and your work is not done to the high standards it once was! Your hirer will notice. They will not be happy. They’ll either ask you to re-do everything, or just find another candidate to do it. They will leave you not so pleasant reviews, and this will badly affect your chances of landing future projects. (Not to mention, you still haven’t taken a shower, cause your boiler is still broken, as you didn’t have the time to fix it!).
You don’t have to take on too much to prove that you are good or to earn more. Just take on a couple of tasks each day and put your best effort onto them. This way you will have a balanced work-life situation, where you are able to meet your work as well as personal commitments without feeling burnt out!
Doing a few things well, rather than doing lots of things half-hearted will get you noticed by more hirers and you will likely land more high-paying positions in the future.
#6. Allowing yourself to get distracted by little things and not having a well time-managed schedule for your days – It is very easy to get distracted by little things every day; and the advances in technology and the abundance of online entertainment sure makes it much more simpler to do this. However, similar to the previous point, if you allow yourself to get distracted by irrelevant things (stop scrolling down that celebrity Instagram page!), you will miss on important deadlines and this will reflect on your work and over time, on your freelance career prospects.
So, shut off that TV, that social media app (and the notifications!), or that annoying little voice that keeps nagging you read about the latest gossip; and just concentrate on your work.
If you find it difficult, use one of our recommended time and task management apps or tools to manage your time better and ensure that you minimize distractions for a more productive day.
#7. Giving up! – There is nothing worse for your career and professional development than giving up!
We have all been there…it gets too much! Too much at work, too much at home; too much in life in general. But what separates the successful from the rest is that they keep going even when things are tough and the odds against them are quite high. They keep going because they know if they can lead by example…FOR THEMSELVES! If they weather the storm now, they know that next time they feel down, they can do it all again.
But what happens when we give up? Well our brain uses that as the ideal solution for when crisis hits and we become enslaved to challenges, setbacks and our fears…forever.
So, as a wise poet once said, ‘if at first you don’t succeed dust yourself up and try again’!
If you don’t get that project, try again and again. If you can’t get that programming code that you wrote to work…look for solutions. If you think all hirers are ignoring you, ask for feedback or just step back and look at where you’re going wrong. Look at other examples, and what others do.
Keep growing, keep developing, and NEVER EVER give up!