Middle-aged readers: have you thought about going freelance or contracting?
Statistically, you probably haven't.
Our latest Talent Trends survey, which takes a look at the state of the current UK workforce, suggests that less than 20 per cent of people aged 35 and over have thought about going freelance.
It gets worse for contracting – just 12 per cent had thought about, while just over 30 per cent said they would think about it in the future.
So why don't people want to explore these options at midlife?
Maybe the thought of switching from a comfortable, reliable full-time job to the world of freelancing or contracting is just a bit daunting.
Maybe, with so many responsibilities to think about, a middle-aged professional just doesn't think it's right to indulge themselves in a completely new, contingent way of working – not when
they've probably got more bills to pay and more mouths to feed than ever.
The truth is, going freelance or contracting, is an option all midlifers should consider.
Here are 3 reasons why...
1. There are plenty of benefits
This seems like an obvious answer, but in all the worrying about switching from the nice, cosy and dependable of a full-time 9-5 job, people forget about all the benefits of going freelance and contracting.
Going freelance and working when you want is a great chance to better manage your work-life balance – something that’s increasingly important for the global workforce. Talent Trends, for example, found that 40 per cent of employees aged 35 and over are prioritising just that.
Contracting meanwhile could be a chance for you to mix it up and move from project to project or maybe even from one industry to another before you get bored.
But it doesn’t have to stop at either freelancing or contracting – portfolio careers are emerging as an option for people who want a bit of everything. Portfolio careers involve working multiple, sometimes very different, roles with different employers that add up to a full-time job. Imagine something like working in IT for a few days a week, then running your own café for the rest of it.
2. It could be good for you!
Famous psychotherapist Carl Jung thought that personality and preferences shift of the course of someone’s life.
The first half of your life is spent confirming and exhibiting your strongest preferences. Once those have been satisfied – in the second half of your life – you’ll start to develop secondary preferences.
For example, an extroverted salesperson may gradually find themselves seeking more time alone to work (i.e. from home). Or perhaps quieter office workers might become more confident in their social skills (i.e. contracting to satisfy their new confidence in quickly building up working relationships).
What better way to tackle your new set of preferences, styles and desires than with a new way of working? Not just sticking to the same job and the same work style you’ve had for the past 20 plus years, but seeking a real change in the way you approach the very idea of working.
3. It’s a future-proof way of working
We’ve covered the fun parts of quitting a full-time job – now here’s a slightly more pragmatic way of looking at things.
Your midlife work style change could be very much born out of sheer necessity. For Babyboomers (people born between 1946 and 1964), their situation could, in fact, force their hand into moving away from a full-time role.
Think about it – this is a generation that now needs to care for its longer-living parents. A generation that probably has to support its children – whether it’s paying for their travel while they embark on an internship or helping them buy their first home. This is a generation more concerned than ever about its pension.
Babyboomers and Gen X, like everybody else, need to be open to the idea of changing their work style and trying new things. Job security isn’t about keeping one steady job for life – it’s now about flexibility and agility. Security doesn’t always mean sticking with what you’ve got in the new world of work.