I’ve decided to make the change and move from my permanent job of the last ten years and become a freelance project manager. Do you have any advance on where I could find opportunities?
The place where many people start is the online job boards and whilst this approach is one of the quickest and easiest to access, it is often not the most fruitful way of securing new freelance contracts. Rather than just posting your CV on a major job board and sitting back, waiting for the offers to flood in, seek out the right staffing and recruitment firms for you. Hunt through the job ads to find the right staffing firm for your industry or project experience. Get in touch; register with them directly; sign up for the job alerts; be proactive in developing any kind of relationship with them which will make them think of you first when a new contract opportunity comes in.
The more successful way to find freelance opportunities is to really work your current contacts and network. Most freelancers get their first gig because someone they know either recommends them to someone else, or they bring them in on what they themselves are working on. Reputation is everything in the freelancing world and people like working with known and trusted people.
Another angle for a freelancer is getting to really know their area or location very well; who the major players are in needing and hiring freelancers, even hanging around with certain groups or ‘tribes’ of professional workers (think developers in their code hacking meetups or project managers at local chapter events)
Finally, when you get the first opportunity, most freelancers find that referrals happen frequently leading to more work. A smart freelancer will make sure they keep their ears to the ground when working in an organization – for e.g., requests from other departments within the same organization also needing a Project Manager – and seize the opportunity! The more a freelancer works and gains the experience and a decent reputation, the easier it is to find the next piece of work.
This article originally appeared in PMI’s PM Network magazine – the magazine for members.
For more information about freelancing and contracting in project management, take a look at all the advice we can offer from Arras People