Here’s why freelance didn’t work for me: my struggle to find a job in the recession

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Two months ago, I left my home town and moved to my fiancee’s town. It was March 4th, 2013.

I had a job waiting for me and that made me feel good. At least the job transition was going to be smooth.

But as I shared with you here: Unemployed and depressed? You are not alone , things at my new job were so out of whack that I only stayed for two weeks.

As rewarding it was to march in that office and announce that I quit, soon after that fear started creeping in. I didn’t have another job secured. I could rely only on my savings (and perhaps on unemployment checks), and I had no idea whether I’ll survive until I get a job.

The first few days of unemployment were fun. I had sent out resumes and since there wasn’t much else I could do, I decided to make the most out of this break. I played Zuma, read books, and just… relaxed. I hadn’t had a break like this since… three years ago? Yeah, that’s right. Woah!

It was nice at first, but then it started to eat at me. I couldn’t go on like this forever. From all the resumes I had sent out – like about 10 or 15 – I got ZERO calls. I couldn’t believe it.

After a week of staring at my silent cell-phone, I decided I couldn’t afford to be picky. I couldn’t afford to apply for good jobs only. WE REALLY ARE IN RECESSION, AFTER ALL.

So I widened my criteria and started applying not only for jobs which were a great match for me, but also for jobs that were a looser match. My plan was to start some job and keep looking for a better offer.

Even with “widened criteria”, I was ready to only compromise so far. I needed some job, but not any job. Unfortunately, the job market was nothing like what it used to be a couple of years back. I had to cast a wider net. So how about freelance?

I searched online for writing jobs (my search was “script-writers wanted”). The online search landed me on one interesting ad –new comic book looking for script-writers, all interested applicants to submit one full-story of 40 scenes. I got right on that! It seemed fun and interesting. I got so carried away that I didn’t even ask about pay. They liked the story and asked me to do four sequels. “Four?!”, I thought. “But the first issue won’t be released until September, which means that I won’t get my humble remuneration until maybe Christmas! And that is IF they keep their word and really do pay me.” It seemed too time-consuming and also vague way beyond my tolerance level, so I dropped it. “Maybe one of these days, when I have nothing to do, I’ll write a sequel,” I thought.

I also registered at a bunch of websites for freelancers. Registration took me half a day with all the tests they require you to pass, but once that was behind me, I eagerly browsed the ads. “Hey, maybe God or The Universe or whatever wants me to look into self-employment! Maybe this is my chance to take a new road and make money through my writing!” I was just short of having dollar-signs pop in my eyes.

On those websites for freelancers, there were pages and pages and pages of job-listings, and that was just the writing-related category. I was also looking in miscelanious categories which featured jobs like gathering 1200 contacts online and pasting them into Excel.

Since I was a new user, I had a limit on how many applications I could send. I thought that was going to be an issue.

Actually, there was a much bigger issue. I had picked the ads based on their title, and after I took a closer look, I realized that I didn’t qualify for even half of them. Many ads demanded a native English speaker or only wanted users with a certain user rating (meaning first-time users were off the table), or someone with references.

On top of that, the few ads I could apply for demanded several writing samples of 500 words or more (500 words is about one page) – which basically meant a great investment of time towards uncertain results. Also, there were many jobs for writing unique website content centered around a dozen keywords.

(read next part here: Job hunting during recession)

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2 thoughts on “Here’s why freelance didn’t work for me: my struggle to find a job in the recession”

  1. Of course, the ideal writing sample varies by job. If you’re applying for a PR job, send a sample press release. If you’re applying for a legal job, they want to see an excerpt of a legal brief or something similar. But if the type of writing you should send isn’t obvious, something in the style of an op-ed or a case study is good (again, even if you need to write it specifically for this use). But in all cases, what’s most important is that it be clear and concise and showcase your ability to write well.

  2. Hi Shannon,

    Yeah, it’s common sense that you should consider the job you’re applying for when sending a sample. At oDest the requirements for the test writing they want are laid out for you by the contractor, so you don’t even have to wonder. But the writing itself is very time-consuming.

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