Becoming a Freelancer

working-freelanceOne of the biggest changes in the job markets in recent years has been the rise of the freelancer. Nearly five million people in the UK are now registered as a freelancer in one profession or another and this number looks set to continue. There are a lot of positives to being your own boss but there are also a few points to remember to keep your view of the potential career realistic.

The good stuff

If you are in a job where you dread Sunday night because Monday morning follows it or you are sick of your time being dominated by office politics then you are likely one of the growing group of people who have instead become freelancers. While working practices are changing, many companies still have old fashioned ideas and approaches that care little for the health and mental well being of their staff – so these staff are another group considering a change of direction.

The biggest benefits for many people are the flexibility of working hours, the ability to work at home or where you want and the lack of a tyrannical boss. You do need a certain mind-set to work under these conditions – self-discipline for one and an ability to motivate yourself is another.

Setting yourself up

There are a few steps to take to set yourself up as a freelancer once you know what kind of work you are going to do. First you need to register as self-employed with HMRC. They will advise you about paying tax and your National Insurance with the tax year running from 6h April to 5th April the next year.

From day one, make sure you keep accurate records of all the money you make and your outgoings. It is often well worth getting a professional accountant with expert IR35 knowledge to help with this as not only will they ensure you pay your taxes correctly and don’t get into trouble, they will also see if you are entitled to any tax breaks or other expenses you can claim for. They will also advise if you need to register for VAT (usually if your annual turnover is over £83,000) and if you should be a limited company or just a sole trader.

Part of keeping accurate records involves having a business bank account so this is another important step. Most banks offer special business accounts with debit cards and other basic features with many offering free banking for a period of a year or two. Insurance may also be needed depending on what you do and if you have any business premises.

Finding work

It can be a bit terrifying when you realise that if you don’t get work, you don’t get paid and that a week off paid is a thing of the past. But if you get yourself organised, have a portfolio or a CV that will attract attention and make use of the various freelance websites that are available to help you find work, it can be surprisingly how quickly it all starts to come together and you join the ranks of the happily self-employed.

What Do You Need to Get Started?

getting-started

Looking for a job can yield different experiences with different types of people. Some enjoy the chase, and applying for as many jobs as possible, whereas others may feel a little perplexed as to why they’re not receiving any feedback from their job applications.

Where a person resides can also affect as to how the job-hunting experience goes as does your access to transportation, but regardless of your position, there are a few tips that can ensure you put yourself in the best position possible when it comes to getting hired.

Take Your Time Creating Your CV

It goes without saying that the creation of a CV can be more than a little monotonous, but once it’s created it’s one of the main tools you will be using to get yourself in front of prospective employers. A CV should describe your roles without too much filler. A good idea is to highlight each position held and list some of your key responsibilities for each role.

You should also ensure that all grammar used is correct, and that the overall feel of the CV is a professional one.

Get Your Social Networks in Order

Social networking has recently become a primary way of assessing potential employees, as such, it makes sense to ensure that there is nothing being posted that could put you in a bad light.

Social networks should be viewed as an extension of your CV, and employers will use the information they find to help them build a profile of you and how suitable you are for the role. Ensuring that you only post ‘suitable’ posts ensures that prospective employers aren’t given the wrong impression of you.

It can also help to post a few links that relate to the industry you wish to work in. Not only does this mean that your social network could be found by prospective companies, but it also shows that you have a genuine interest in the brand.

Consider Showcasing Your Work

Depending on the sector you work in, the online world can allow you to build relationships with a number of businesses across the UK. This can be done by simply building an online portfolio via one of the more popular blogging platforms, and what’s more there are plenty of free options, so the only thing you need to invest is time.

There are many different platforms where you can host a portfolio or blog. WordPress allows for both self-hosted and free sites, while Blogger offers something a little more informal. Both platforms have a number of templates, and there are plenty of other options to choose from depending on your preferences.

A simple photography blog can help a professional photographer showcase their work with the click of a button, whereas a site curating any writing work and blog posts you have created in relation to the sector you would like to work in also yields similar results.

Those looking for a job will no doubt testify how difficult it can be, but many find that they get a lot from the experience if they inject the right level of enthusiasm. Of course, there can be disappointment along the way, but having the right mind-set and knowing your worth could see you reaping the benefits before you know it.

Should You Hire a CV Writer?

writing-a-cv

The CV is one of the most important documents you will ever have – it tells the story of you, as a person and as a professional. It sells your abilities and your experience but not in a boastful way. It paints a picture of you that you give to employers to show why they would want to hire you. But should you write it yourself or employ a CV writing service? We spoke to one of the leading CV writing services in the UK, Purple CV, to find out why hiring someone like them can often be the first step of a successful job search.

Using a Professional

Unless you are a professional writer in some form, then writing the perfect CV is something probably best done by an expert. While having a professionally written CV is no guarantee to getting the job, it does help and often an expert in CV writing can use phrases that will catch the employer’s attention in a way that a non-professional might not, as well as avoiding the cliches that recruiters are tired of seeing.

A professionally written CV will also help show your abilities and experience in ways that you may not have considered. The job of the CV writer is to paint a picture of you and the very wording of the CV can give you an edge over others who have a less well-written document.

A CV writer will also have good knowledge about trends. When you do something for a living, you gain insights into that industry that others don’t and this applies to CV writing. Current hiring practises is one area that they will have a reasonable knowledge of, so getting help with your CV from an professional can help give you that edge in the process.

Getting the Right CV Writer

However, the important part in using a CV writing service is getting the right person. There are lots of people out there who claim to be CV writing experts and any one of them can write you a CV. But if you don’t get a top quality professional, the document may be no different o what you yourself could have written.

One way to choose a CV writer is to look at someone who has plenty of experience. Look for customer testimonials or examples of their work. If someone says they have qualifications in CV writing, then ask to see details. The industry here in the UK isn’t regulated as it is in the US but any professional should be willing to give out details of what makes them an expert.

The Process

Usually writing the CV will involve a series of conversations, a little like an interview. The CV writer may take a copy of a CV you have written yourself to use as a basis for the new document as well as any supporting documentation. You will need to allow a little time to talk with them so they can get to know what you can do and showcase this correctly on the CV.

Some CV writers offer additional services such as interview coaching which you may want to consider. But don’t pick someone just for extras – the most important part of the process is that you get the perfect CV for the job you want. You can find more advice from the Purple CV by checking out their Facebook page, but the key thing to take away is, if you do your research and find the right company to help you with your CV, you could find it gives you a better chance of getting the job you want than if try and go it alone.

Preparing for a Job Interview

How you feel when you get an interview for that job you really want can be a bit of a roller coaster ride. At first there’s the excitement of realising you’re one step nearer getting the job. Then there’s anxiety, when you start to think about the interview process, and everything that’s resting on it.

Don’t panic! Here, with the help of The Interview Guys is a short video with some really useful tips on how to get ready for any interview. These 5 simple steps will make sure you’re ready and you give the best possible interview performance.

Want a Better Job? Go On Holiday

It may sound a crazy idea that going on holiday could lead to you finding a better job but there is method in the apparent madness. Because what we discuss here isn’t just a week in Spain on the beach but a holiday with a purpose. It might be a charity challenge, a volunteering project or even a series of trips during a gap year to do different things around the world. But all of these can lead to you getting a better job and also be more employable.

The Gap Year

More and more students are coming around to the benefits of a gap year while studying at college or university. A gap year that is well used can add significantly to a resume when the right kinds of trips and holidays are listed. According to the founder of the website GapYear.com, the gap year is about demonstrating focus, showcasing abilities and finding a life path that will lead them to both financial and emotional happiness.

Australia is a popular choice for a gap year – it is similar enough to Britain in some ways yet offers completely different experiences. Travelling around the country is a great thing to do but the gap year isn’t all about sunshine and beaches. It may mean getting involved with a conservation project that later involves moving to another location.

Another option for the gap year is to pick up real life skills that will complement academic studies and put the student ahead in the job application stakes. For those wanting to work with kids, for example, working as an Au Pair is an option. Or volunteering with an inner city project helping disadvantaged kids gives a glimpse at a different set of issues.

Short Breaks

Even a shorter break of a week or two can be turned into something beneficial with charity challenges being top of the list. These are organised events that raise money for a charity through undertaking a challenge. One of the most popular is climbing Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa. Other challenges could be to trek through the Grand Canyon or to climb to the base camp of Mount Everest. These challenges can be life changing, giving people a great self of accomplishment and self-confidence as well as looking impressive on a resume.

Another option for a short break is a volunteering trip. This offers the chance to work on a project that you are passionate about and always looks impressive when interviewing for a job. For example, working with the wildlife conservation community in South Africa or in the giant panda conversation project in Chengdu, China are great examples. Volunteer teaching assignments in places such as the Amazon or other parts of Brazil are a very fulfilling way of giving something back to a community and having an amazing experience. There are even companies who offer special packages just like a normal holiday that include working on a project while you are in country so you know you will be travelling and working with a legitimate organisation.

Whatever you choose, and wherever you go, with a bit of forethought and planning you could make sure that your excursion is not only the trip of a lifetime, but also something that will enhance your CV and make you a much more desirable candidate when you come back and start looking for a job.

Do You Need a CRB Check?

A CRB check is the abbreviation for a Criminal Records Bureau check and as the name suggests, it was usually requested when an employer wanted to check whether a job applicant had a criminal record. This would allow employers to make a more fact-driven decision when considering applicants. These days, and while they are often still referred to, there’s no such thing as a CRB check. It has been replaced with what is know as a DBS check, a Disclosure and Barring Service check, and there are actually three different versions of this new check.

When it comes to finding employment, many may not even consider applying for a DBS check. Although only some roles require applicants to have a DBS check, these roles are scattered across a number of different sectors. As such, it can be a good idea to make some enquiries about the sector you wish to work in, and whether your role will require a DBS check.

What Kind of Roles Require a DBS Check?

Whether a role requires a DBS check depends on the nature of the role and who the person will be working with. For example, those who will be working with vulnerable people and children will need to undergo a DBS check. Often those working within the financial sector will also need to provide employers with a DBS check.

Generally roles that will see people subjected to sensitive material, money or vulnerable people will require applicants to undergo a DBS check to ensure that they are suitable for the role.

When Should I Apply For a DBS Check?

There is no problem applying for roles before applying for a DBS check, but it’s always worth checking to see whether you need to provide your own, or whether the business will pay for one on your behalf.

Evidently, if you’re looking to work within a certain sector, such as becoming a foster carer, then it can be a good idea to get a DBS check carried out in the first instance. There are a number of companies a person can opt to use, including the following:

www.ucheck.co.uk
Excellent customer service is partnered with a fast and reliable service and easy-to-use platform, meaning that carrying out a criminal check is an easy and stress-free affair.

www.criminalrecordandbarringservice.co.uk
The CRBS offers a straightforward solution for those who rarely have time to themselves. Registered with the DBS and Disclosure Scotland, the CRBS is able to offer enhanced, standard and basic DBS checks.

www.disclosureservices.com
Disclosure Services serves as an umbrella company for the Disclosure and Baring Service, Disclosure Scotland and Access NI to provide criminal record checks across England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

www.crb-checkonline.co.uk
An easy application process is matched with a professional and friendly service, meaning CRB Check Online is able to provide businesses with one of the most up-to-date portals in the UK.

Overall, not every role requires a DBS check, and not everyone will need a DBS check for every role they undertake. However, it does pay to research as to whether your desired role or career will require one, as the sooner you have one, the quicker your application process will be. If you have an up-to-date DBS check in your possession, you can also add this to your CV and send it to prospective employers.

Your Job Search & Social Media

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Before the birth of the Internet, many businesses would vet potential employees by referring to your CV and carrying out a reference check. While this procedure is still commonplace, with some amendments put in place depending on the role being applied for. Modern-day employers have access to a lot more information, mostly due to the popularity of social networking.

Isn’t My Social Network Private?

Of course, there are privacy settings in place that help people control who sees what when they make a post, but life on the Internet is very rarely private. In fact, a recent survey found that over 52% of employers search for a candidate’s social network page before making a decision as to whether they should be hired or not. So which social network is searched the most? Well, the following stats should give you an idea of just how thorough some recruiters can be when assessing potential employees:

  • LinkedIn: 92%
  • Facebook: 66%
  • Twitter: 52%
  • Google: 21%

As you can imagine, there are a series of red flags that will make you a less attractive applicant. These include posts containing content with profanity, sexual contact as well as bad grammar. As you can see, potential employers can build a better overall profile of you as a person, so it pays to monitor what you post via social networking.

What Should I Post on Social Networks?

Social networks allow people to share their identity as well as their interests, so no-one should ever conform to making their social network pages business-orientated. However, it makes sense to showcase our worth where possible.

So how is this done? If you’re looking to gain employment with a certain industry, it can be a good idea to share content that relates to that company. This shows employers that you are looking to live the brand, rather than just fill a position.

If you have a business-related social network page such as LinkedIn, ensure it details all your skills and accomplishments thus far in the business world. This partnered with the right kind of content and blog posts makes you a far more attractive proposition to any potential employer.

You should also ensure that your grammar is the best it can be. Should you need to practice writing posts, why not write them within a document or within a proof reading program before posting your update? This will ensure that your posts are coherent, and you will start ensuring all your future posts follow suit by way of habit.

Overall, engagement is key when making an impression with potential employers, but the right kind of engagement has to be implemented to ensure the right kind of results are yielded. If you’re a photographer that uses apps such as Instagram and Pinterest, then ensure you’re uploading some professional shots in order to who case your work. Those who write blogs related to the industry should ensure they’re shared on social networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.