Prior to the advent of the internet, and even a few years afterward, most people wanted one thing – job security. That meant going to college, getting hired at a good company, and slowly working your way to a promotion. Who knows, if you stuck around long enough you might even make it to management one day.
A good job meant financial security for yourself and your family. That meant your bills would be paid, food would be in your belly, and life would be good. That trend, however, seems to be changing.
With millennials graduating college in droves, it has become clear that many graduates have a less than traditional career path in mind – freelancing. Believe it or not, it’s predicted that by the year 2027, more than 50% of the workforce in the United States will be freelancers. In 2017 alone, more than 57.3 million people decided to give freelancing a try in the United States.
A change in traditional values
The desire to strike out and carve a little piece of the world out for one’s self is nothing new. Even one of our founding fathers, George Washington was an entrepreneur at heart.
However, today’s freelancer can’t exactly be called an entrepreneur in the traditional sense of the word. You could say that most freelancers nowadays are opportunists. What opportunity are they taking advantage of exactly? You guessed it, the internet.
Businesses who aren’t capable of keeping up with today’s digital landscape are quick to fall behind the times. So, why not hire someone to get you up to speed and keep your business competitive?
Need a website to establish your online presence? Hire a freelance web designer. Need content for your brand-new blog? Well, there are freelance writers for that. Need traffic for your site? Find a freelance social media expert. You get the picture.
The internet has created a massive need for specialized talent the likes we’ve never seen, and people, especially millennials, are capitalizing on this need by moving away from traditional jobs and striking out as enterprising freelancers.
What does this mean for the future?
With so many people gravitating towards freelancing, we will see a drastic change in the traditional workforce. Frankly, significant changes have already taken place. For example, back in the 1950s people used to work at a single job for most of their lives.
In contrast, job hopping has become the new standard in 2019 and beyond. While no one can say why this happens with any measure of certainty, this new job-hopping trend is often attributed to a desire to try out many different job types before settling on a single career.
Perhaps the sudden popularity of freelancing is simply people trying out something new to see if it will stick. With that being said, there are certain advantages to being a freelancer. For instance, freelancers experience unprecedented freedom to work from wherever they want, whenever they want. Perhaps it’s that freedom that makes the prospect of freelancing so enticing.
Despite this change in how we decide to seek employment, that doesn’t mean freelancers can take it easy. They have to work hard to establish a client base, and that takes building a good reputation. Sure, you’re probably not going to see many Yelp reviews for your friendly neighborhood freelancer, but its already been demonstrated that reputation can make or break a freelancer’s career.
The freelancing platform Upwork has seen to that. Would you ever hire a freelance web developer with a one-star rating? That would be akin to flagging down a one-star uber driver. You certainly wouldn’t trust that guy (or gal) to get you home safely.
With completed.com providing a similar rating service in the professional world, one can only wonder how big a role reputation aggregation sites will play on a freelancer’s ability to sustain a viable career.
The rise of freelancers represents a change in the traditional workforce, but that just means the job market will just have to adapt to the times. We’ll just have to wait to see what the future has in store.