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Will The “Great Resignation” Be Great for Freelancers?

Employees are leaving their jobs en masse. This is an amazing opportunity for freelance workers.

Americans are quitting their jobs. We’ve spent a significant chunk of time spent away from offices because of the coronavirus shutdown. Now, a surprising number of workers have decided that they’re not going back to business as usual. Employers have to face the “Great Resignation.”

A LinkedIn survey revealed that 46 percent of respondents felt that the time spent at home during the shutdown – either on lay-off or working remotely – led them to rethink their current work situation. The U.S. Department of Labor reported that during April, May and June 2021, 11.5 million workers gave notice. The February 2021 Microsoft Workplace Confidence Index survey of more than 30,000 workers showed that 41 percent of American workers are considering quitting. That number increases to 54 percent when looking solely at Gen-Z employees. If that’s not enough, a new Gallup survey found that 48 percent of workers are actively job-hunting.

A new market for freelancers

Upwork, an online marketplace for freelance assignments, released a report in August 2021, “The Great Resignation: From Full-time to Freelance.” It provides yet another examination of why American professionals are leaving or seriously thinking of leaving their current full-time employment. As many businesses anticipate a return of their employees to the office, sometimes on a limited basis, the survey of 4,000 workers showed that some professional-level employees are not willing to surrender their work-life balance of working from home. Approximately nine million pandemic WFH employees, or 17 percent of professionals, would consider looking for another job if forced to return to the office on a full-time, or even part-time, basis.

The scope of the Great Resignation

Anthony Klotz, Associate Professor of Management at Texas A & M University named this phenomenon. It has the potential to create significant disruption for many organizations if it comes to pass in the way that several studies predict. Already, workforce development experts are advising mid-size organizations to find an opportunity in the instability. They can’t compete for talent in the way that big businesses can. Instead, they should tap the power of the growing on-demand workforce: freelance consultants.

So, what does that mean for me?

Rather than scrambling to hire employees on short notice, company leaders would be better served by supplementing their teams with talented freelancers. That means you and me, my friend. We own the skills needed to successfully tackle any project, from designing eye-catching websites to managing a multi-platform social media campaign and conducting comprehensive research projects. Instead of paying both high salaries and benefits for full-time employees, mid-size organizations can access top-drawer freelance talent on a per-project basis. They keep overhead down as they achieve objectives.

No doubt many company leaders will first attempt to squeeze more work out of current employees. But that all-too-common default behavior probably won’t fly anymore. In fact, that habit could partly explain why valuable team members quit. The bosses will be nervous and may not know where to turn. Still, deciding to outsource and bring in freelance talent may quickly be seen as inevitable.

Where you should begin

How might freelancers cash in on the “Great Resignation?” Carpe diem – you know how to do that! Start by putting yourself in the shoes of an employer who has a mission-critical project, a deadline and a team that’s down two key players. Below are familiar sources for employers looking for freelance talent ready to complete important jobs. You’ll also find a credibility-building resource that will showcase you as a very attractive candidate to hire.

  • LinkedIn: Populate as many categories of your profile as possible and be certain to include examples of your best workIf you haven’t participated already, use ProFinder, a service where employers solicit freelancers for projects. Create a profile and be prepared to quickly respond to employer requests. Only five freelancers may bid on a project.
  • Upwork and Fiverr: These gig worker marketplaces seem to be more welcoming to web designers and IT programmers. But I was hired for a writing project on Upwork three years ago. To get hired, you must search for and pursue assignments. At Upwork, you’ll wind up paying a small fee to bid on a job.
  • Help a Reporter Out: HARO connects journalists and writers with expert sources (like you) to provide quotes. The reporter finishes their story, and you gain exposure and credibility. Prospective employers will surely type your company name into a search engine to see what comes up. In addition to showing great content that you’ve written and your social media, include your insightful quotes that have appeared in relevant publications. Quotes are an excellent way to demonstrate your know-how and convince prospects that you’re a good hire. 

Thanks for reading,


Read more from Kim on how to add value to your LinkedIn profile.

About the author

Kim L. Clark

Kim L. Clark is the founder of Polished Professionals Boston, a business strategy and marketing consultancy. She is also an adviser to small business owners and develops workshops and classes that provide instruction in writing business plans. Kim has lectured at the Lesley University Seminars, the Boston Chamber of Commerce and the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce.

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