Someone asked in a recent [webinar] how one can promote one’s talents and availability as a free agent. First, of course, there’s no substitute at all for the direct route: you’re hitting the virtual pavement to schedule interviews just like ordinary employment seekers. Use indeed.com to aggregate a single search point for monster, careerbuilder, and other jobs sites. Being a free agent doesn’t mean all contract employers come looking for you, but it does give a better set of resources empowering you to land that contract position and enjoy your life without worrying about benefits or paperwork.
But the question is quite apt. You want to be ‘searchable’ as well: while the old wisdom on efficiency is posting a job and letting applicants find you, that hasn’t turned out to be the most efficiency for a lot of employers – they often don’t get the best talent that way. Ball teams don’t just wait for people to knock at their door – they send out scouts. So you definitely should hang out your shingle. So how?
- Use Monster, etc.: Overhaul your resume and put it up on Monster, SimplyHired (and other job boards). There will be a place to describe what you’re looking for, and you can flesh out the relationship you want there. We can even discuss approaches here in the forum. Sure, you’ll get a lot of spam trying to get you involved in multi-level marketing, but it’s worth it to get that one awesome contract job bite on your line.
- Use LinkedIn. This social media site is based around the resume and is great for consolidating work connections, professional connections of all kinds – yes do connect with your dentist, your realtor, your next door neighbor (the connections of your connections are often your most valuable resource), and is excellent for indicating and pumping your availability and work search status. Dump all your e-mail contacts into LinkedIn (it’ll let you weed out that ex- at the last minute that you don’t want to send an invite to). For any employees (of former employers) that you can say nice things about, write a recommendation that will show on their profile. Spread goodwill, and mostly good will come of it.
- Use Facebook. Three options on Facebook: 1. Use your personal profile (like I do) – I know that there’s no hiding what you do online, regardless of privacy settings, so private Daniel is public Daniel – I treat it all as the public persona and don’t do anything under my name anywhere that I wouldn’t want a client to see. For private stuff, I use pen names. 2. Keep your personal profile for just friends, but create and manage a page for your professional face at facebook.com/pages. 3. Keep your personal profile for just friends, but create and manage a facebook group for your professional face (takes a few extra steps, but not hard). I find the profile method the most elegant and simple solution, since I build a bigger, more effective network, because people who connect with me for personal reasons are often the best resources (along with connections of connections) for mutual professional interests and leads (I set security to show my wall updates to friends of friends), but it’s your identity – you’ve got to decide.
- Use Youtube: The biggest searchable social network is also the most fun – it takes (for me) a $90 Flip camera and just a few minutes with the boldness to talk however I normally talk w/o being afraid of a few freckles, wrinkles, warts, and hiccups to get a video uploaded to the site. If you have a webcam, Youtube will record directly to the site for you. What should a video contain? Your elevator pitch. You just shook hands with someone who it turns out has an opening for the exact position you want. You don’t know any of the details, but you’ve got 2.5 minutes to win an interview. What do you say? Be sure to put all the cities in which you’re willing to work into the keywords when you fill out the video information, as well as words like resume, job seeker, etc.
- Write and Self-Publish: Here’s a killer tip. Personally, as an internet marketing consultant, this would normally be advice I’d charge for – you’re getting it free here. Write an article in your field of expertise. Whatever you do, there’s something you know, see, or think about that the average person doesn’t – experience, insight, observation, common misconception, frequently asked question, opinion, concern, warning, how to, perspective, illustration, analogy, lessons learned, advice, informed commentary on recent news, etc. Write 200-500 words (don’t go over 500). Post it in a free article site. Rinse and repeat, if you like. This is also good for when that potential employer googles your name, as (statistically) half of them do. But for now, mention at the bottom of the article that you’re seeking contract work as… make your elevator pitch and include your e-mail address, link to your contact info, or other contact info, if you don’t mind everyone seeing it when searching for you. Some sites offer a ‘shielded’ link to e-mail you without revealing your e-mail address. You could do a blog, of course, but keep in mind that the value from that comes from being consistent at writing. If you’re going to try it once, do it piecemeal, or a few times only, stick with article sites. You can find them on Google, or you can purchase an hour of consulting time from a consultant to advise you on most effective target sites, etc. (I’m not trying to sell my [services] but just being honest – this is part of what we do, besides build blogs, etc).
Hope this helps. Feel free to post your replies, queries, etc. I’m not the only one who knows anything about this, for sure, so I’m sure someone in the community may have a better answer.