UK's top business talent facing unemployment crisis and how to become your own boss

The job security and employment of highly-skilled, white-collar workers is coming under threat due to the impact of coronavirus, according to a report published in the FT. 

The number of applicants per position for white-collar jobs has risen by 150%, while the number of new jobs posted has fallen to under 40% of the number in January. 

Further to this, research from The Future Strategy Club, has found that nearly 3 in 10 (29%) business leaders have already streamlined their finance teams during the pandemic and, in many cases, it has been the UK's top talent that has been impacted the most. In fact, as businesses streamline their teams, there may even be an increase in demand for contractor talent as projects begin to resume. But how can those worried about their future get started with freelancing if traditional full-time work is no longer an option?

Start small

If you already have a full-time job, it's worth taking on one or two clients in your spare time first. This way, you can get a few projects under your belt and work to built your client base. It's also a good idea to start with local contacts; although freelance work can eventually open you up to work with international clients more easily, it may be easier to establish relationships through friends, old work colleagues and members of the local community until your portfolio is built up.

Build reputation and relationships 

Building professional relationships with your connections is crucial, especially in the early stages of your freelance career. Often, the best referrals for new clients comes from word of mouth recommendations. It's important to build a good reputation from day one, and can be helped by incorporating social media, such a LinkedIn page, to showcase your projects and allow previous clients to leave reviews.

Don't expect business to pick up quickly

Becoming a freelancer can be tricky, and many people give up after a few months. Building a freelance career certainly takes dedication, and it will take time to build up your reputation and client base. Perseverance is key. Remember: every project or client you take on is bringing you one step closer to the freelance career you want.

Utilise clubs and organisations Getting to know inspirational people who can help you become a freelancer during in a pandemic can be difficult, but places like The Future Strategy Club can offer a place to interact and learn from other contractors who can give you invaluable advice.

Justin Small, Founder of The Future Strategy Club - a marketplace and education platform for the finest contractor talent - discusses the importance of freelancers post-COVID: 

"Highly skilled employees are facing an enormously challenging period as firms look to make cuts at a higher and higher level. For most people at this level their job has been secure due to their talent and experience but that may no longer be the case. More and more top talent will be finding themselves - through no fault of their own - at the risk of losing their livelihoods. But with such desirable skills freelancing can be a brilliant option.

Whether it be to accommodate childcare, have a healthier work/life balance, or even down to furlough or unemployment as a result of the pandemic, the appeal of freelance work is a viable choice for many people today.

Although historically, freelancers have been excluded from the benefits of the permanent workforce - including workplace culture, socialisation and support networks - it is clear that the perception of freelancers and gig economy work has long needed an overhaul. Now, with the turbulence caused by the lockdown crisis, the private sector’s reliance on flexible workers will not only become apparent but crucial to its survival, delivering a positive step for the gig economy and its importance to the wider economy as we grow out of the COVID-19 period.”

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