16

There was a period when I was an individual freelancer, without having formed a proprietorship or something and without having official certificates of experience. Though I made it, after sometime I dropped freelancing and returned to a regular job.

Generally, during interviews people praise the fact that you are self driven, as you have been freelancing. However, when HR folks calculates pay packages, I think they use it as an excuse and define my freelancing period as years without relevant experience. So, it looks like it's as big a disadvantage as not having a job during that period.

What is expected as career experience from freelancing years? How do you appropriately present that experience to potential recruiters?

EDIT
Just as suggested by people, there has been a good tech project i had done which was also listed in resume. I had international publications out of that work as well. And i was critically evaluated on that very project because that was most relevant work they had got unlike any other candidate.

I think my direct bosses did understand the value of my work and depended on me critically; but HR only used this as an excuse.

  • 1
    You could provide examples of the work you did - deliverables, specs, client feedback, etc. Maybe try to show some progression in the work that you did, illustrating that you improved skill a, b, and c over the n months that you freelanced. – hairboat Apr 11 '12 at 12:34
19

First and foremost, make sure that they understand that your freelancing was for real, professional projects. A lot of people (particularly large companies) think that "freelancing" is just a fancy way of saying that you built your mom's sister's dog's vanity page and got paid $10 to do it. Explain the work you've done building your business relationships. Even if you weren't registered as a corporation, you were still in business. People hired you to perform a service, you (should have) filed tax paperwork accordingly, you played manager, project manager, employee, accountant, and more, and so on. Make sure that is clear from the very beginning.

Once you get to the point of negotiating salary, the company has decided that they want you. Therefore, you have more leverage for negotiation than in the interview process. Explain to them that your freelancing experience is still professional experience (and may even be no different than what the company does) and that you feel you should be compensated accordingly. Oftentimes, the company will be willing to work with you, but of course, be prepared to walk away from it if you think you're being undercompensated.

However do keep in mind that you might not get paid the same rate as an employee as you would a freelancer. I can't speak for other countries, but in the United States, freelancers can typically charge 2 to 3 times what their "traditional" counterparts get paid, because freelancers have to take care of their own benefits (health insurance, 401k, time off, etc) and the "employer" half of income taxes. So make sure you take your benefits into account when considering a compensation package.

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    +1 - I list the position as an Independent Contractor on my resume and include references for my projects. The best thing I have found is to ask for a letter of reference upon completion. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Apr 11 '12 at 13:18
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    The benefits/taxes bit is the same in the UK. Self employed contractors "earn" more here too, but unless you get really lucky and are in work 90% of the time it works out at about the same as being an employee over the long run. – ChrisF Apr 18 '12 at 11:40
6

I wouldn't refer to it as free-lancing. As @Chad says in his comment, identify the time as "Independent Contractor", describing your projects and clients. If you had a company name during that time, list the company name and identify yourself as the Owner. I had a few years in which I had my own one person company and some of those years were busy and some weren't. They all count the same to me.

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