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Doom & Gloom. Or Boom?

As bleak news of the economy continues to drip into our consciousness, we at ponder the implications for freelancers and offer a useful technique for standing out in a crowded market.

Things must be bad. First it was just a credit crunch. Credit crunched, cracked and crumbled. A recession followed. Now the economic troubles have earned a new, ominous moniker: The Great Recession.

So, should contractors and freelancers be worried about the job market?

Yes and no. While traditional job vacancies may be in short supply, flexible staffing options like freelancers and contractors are increasingly popular with businesses that are struggling to predict their future. By hiring freelancers and contractors, businesses get the people they need when they need them, and can easily and efficiently reduce staff numbers when work slows down.

But, as many thousands of traditional employees are made redundant, fresh talent enters the freelancing and contracting market. So while the market for flexible workers is growing, so too is the pool of freelancers and contractors.

Standing Out in a Crowded Job Market

The key to successful freelancing and contracting will increasingly be self-promotion. To succeed, you'll have to rise above your numerous competitors. Now is the time to hone your marketing and make the most of every opportunity to promote yourself. Freelancers and contractors are effectively small businesses, and there's no excuse for running a small business in an unprofessional manner.

Testimonials and Recommendations

Most employers request references before taking on new contractors and freelancers. And many businesses use testimonials - engaging the power of social proof to persuade potential customers that they are reliable and trustworthy. There's no reason why freelancers can't behave like small businesses and collect and display testimonials.

Freelancers and contractors trade off their reputations. So it's vital that you collate a portfolio of work to show potential clients and back it up with recommendations and testimonials. If you're shy about asking employers for recommendations, use
LinkedIn to request recommendations. LinkedIn formalises the entire process and means you can send requests for recommendations through the site, without having to ask in person. You'll soon get into the habit of requesting recommendations after completing a piece of work.

By continually refining your professional identity, you'll be able to succeed in a highly competitive job market, and you'll emerge from the recession stronger and more resilient.