In the old days of traditional work models, we were not only discouraged from having second jobs, or working ‘on the side’; in some cases it was forbidden. Helping the enemy was feared and so was, and still is, the misuse of proprietary information. However the business landscape is changing rapidly, and some companies are now encouraging their staff, especially in engineering roles, to get further experience outside of their normal projects. At the same time, staff are looking for options.
Technology means that our lifestyles can be flexible; we can work remotely, have a more balanced work and family life, and no longer have to be tied up with one organisation to get ahead. It’s more an attitude now of there is much to be learned, so engineers are encouraged to get out there and get amongst it.
Many engineers are moving to freelance their way into better projects, with more flexibility, and more independence to be the best they can without company constraints. It’s becoming the new normal.
Although it’s hard to tell how many freelancers are in Australia at one time, a 2015 survey revealed that there were over 4.1 million freelancers working across many industries, and almost half of those were under 35 years old. Freelancers are often thought of as those working with sites such as Fiverr, Upwork and Expert360 as platforms that offer a range of talent solutions in an array of disciplines. But what about specialists? Engineers also need a place that is specific to both their specialties as well as a place for organisations to target the right talent for their projects. That is why FlexiEngineers exists, and we believe it will be a game-changer.
What are the benefits of freelancing in the Engineering space?
In the Australian industry, freelancing engineers aren’t new. By its nature the engineering space is different from other sectors, in that often a company won’t need an engineer on a full-time basis. Much of the work that engineers do is project-based, and certain skills are only required for a short part of that project, so it makes sense that they aren’t caught up in large employment contracts for long periods.
Navigating the freelancing landscape as an engineer
While it’s also becoming more popular with the accessibility to online freelancer boards, there needs to be an awareness of navigating the space. It’s a wide field, engineering covers a lot of ground, and there are many specialists required for many different types of work.
Some of the subcategories across the disciplines include product design, electrical, CAD, architecture, mechanical, civil and structural, plus contract manufacturing. So if you are considering freelancing in the engineering field, you’ll need to consider what your strengths are and concentrate on that. There are platforms to find work, but you’ll also need to be able to market yourself.
As a freelancer, you have the unique opportunity to be well unique! Work out your point of difference and play to that. Don’t be afraid to look at what other industries are doing as far as marketing trends. As you build your marketing plan you’ll come up with a unique strategy that could work insanely well for you.