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  • Diana Schneidman

The real reason that demand for freelancers will grow

The experts on the Internet are preaching two main reasons to freelance and consult.

The first is that the universe wants you to succeed if you know the Secret and apply it to your freelance career. This argument says that Source is unlimited. Just as there are innumerable drops of water in the ocean and grains of sand on the beach, the universe is unlimited in the resources it can provide to each of use. (Those dismal economists are so wrong!) Jesus and Martin Luther King, Jr. knew the Secret, and although they died young and not on Hallmark deathbeds, it just goes to show that you can own a yacht by Friday if you construct your affirmations just right and blah, blah, blah, yada, yada, yada.

Reason number two: Our competition is giving up. Sure, we are discouraged by the Great Recession, but others in our professions are even gloomier. They are too down in the dumps to market themselves, leaving the field wide open to us. What losers they are, but not us! As their efforts wane, we race ahead full speed, leaving them behind in the dust.

Hiring freelancers to achieve results

Permit me to introduce a third reason to this discussion: As corporate executives slash staffing with machetes, they must turn to skilled freelancers and consultants if they want to get the work done.

Here’s what Craig Randall, managing director of the Chicago office of executive search firm DHR International, said on the front page of the Chicago Tribune on Monday: “Six months ago they cut the fat, three months ago they cut into the muscle and now, they’re cutting into the bone.”

HR types advise workers to hold on to their jobs by exhibiting superior work ethics and intensively networking within the company. But when execs get out the big blades, they don’t cut tens of thousands by evaluating each worker, one by one. Being people of the big picture, they hack out whole mountain ranges and leave it to others to reseed the edelweiss.

Who are the “others”? First-line supervisors? Maybe, but many of those people have been axed too. Those who remain, regardless of rank, are too busy to implement programs—and that’s assuming that they remember how to do it and equally important, know how to do it using current technology.

You can imagine how many projects are disintegrating, regardless of the company’s lip service to superior customer service, innovation and whatever. Managers are deciding if they are going to write this quarter’s newsletter, bring to market the product that has been under development and schedule the fall sales conference. If projects languish, companies will be progressively more challenged to participate in any economic recovery.

This all means that companies will need talent. They may be reluctant to hire people, given that they’ve just laid off the equivalent positions. So the solution is to find freelancers and consultants.

Pricing in a troubled economy

The first impulse of freelancers and consultants may be to price their services low. After all, times are hard. Yes, times may be hard, but this does not diminish the monetary value of their skills.

Companies will need the very best personnel they can find. Those with experience in companies’ specific functions and industries. With veteran instincts for corporate ins and outs. Who can advise managers who are spread too thin. When the pressure is on, hirers will rely on freelancers and consultants for creative concepts, quality implementation, last-minute details and sound judgment.

This level of performance and responsibility merits top dollar for freelancers and consultants, don’t you agree?

Originally posted 1-9-09

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