Dear Matt: What tips do you have for freelancers like me who are looking for full-time work? What should I say about my salary history? And is it true that companies may not want to hire freelancers because they think we are too independent to work as part of a team?
Matt says: The most important thing you can do is to research salary trends for your specific position in their market and industry, said Barbara Strohoffer, senior account manager of The Creative Group in Minneapolis. Trade publications, online salary guides and the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics are useful sources. The Creative Group 2011 Salary Guide also lists averages starting salaries for a range of creative positions.
"Don't forget to take into account all of the benefits a full-time job may provide, such as stability, health care packages, training and career growth opportunities," said Strohoffer.
The equivalent of your salary history is the annual income you reported on your taxes while you were freelancing, said Tony Nelson, president of TBN Consulting, a Minneapolis-based search firm for direct hire, contract and freelance professionals in the marketing profession. However, you may consider stating salary history as "not applicable", and be ready to discuss it during the interview process.
Nelson has placed numerous people that have worked as freelancers and then decided to go full time. This works well as long as the company and the candidate are on the same page.
"Most freelance professionals have an entrepreneurial spirit, take ownership of their work and need minimal supervision," said Nelson. "Freelancers are generally flexible, with experience working for multiple clients on a variety of assignments. Those are all outstanding qualities for most hiring managers."
Some concerns that employers have about freelancers are: Will they be focused on the job I hired them for, or on outside freelance projects? Can I keep them happy with a direct hire position? Are they only looking for a direct hire position until they obtain more freelance work?
It will be important for the freelancer to have a sound reason for wanting to work in a direct hire position, said Nelson. You need to assure them you are dedicated to this full-time opportunity.
"Whether you work on a contract or full-time basis, it's key to demonstrate a 'team' mentality to your client or employer," said Strohoffer. "The more you can show that you're part of the team, in any scenario, the more valuable you'll be."
Matt Krumrie is a Twin Cities freelance writer specializing in career advice.