By Becky Wong
While speaking to many of you who are keen to move into remote work this year, I’ve been hearing the same common beliefs over and over that are stopping so many of you from beginning to explore opportunities where you could work remotely or start freelancing.
Here are the top 6 common beliefs that might be holding you back right now. We hope we can bust these ‘myths’ to help kick-start your remote work or freelancer journey!
Belief #1: You can’t do your current work remotely
You can do most jobs remotely! This belief was one I said to myself when I left London a couple of years ago: I was convinced that I needed to be in an office to do my job(s) as a Projects & Operations Manager. Although I knew I could deliver my work remotely, I had assumed all companies and clients would want their Project, Operations or Business Managers to be physically by their side. This is not the case at all.
With the technology available to us today, we can have team meetings virtually on Zoom Video Calls, we can update each other on Slack, share files and folders on Dropbox, we can make international calls to each other on Skype.
If you work in an office-based role, have a quick search online and you will easily find opportunities where you can do your job remotely. You’re likely to be surprised by discovering many people who are already doing a similar job to yours remotely for years! If your work is more hands-on, there may be opportunities for you to transition into consulting work in the future to provide you with more flexibility to work remotely.
Research online or ask around in your personal networks – I’m sure you’ll be very surprised at what remote or freelance opportunities there are available to you.
Belief #2: You’re not an expert / You have no experience
The ‘imposter syndrome’ struggle is real. I know it all too well myself. Let me tell you though, whatever you are working on right now, I bet you know your stuff! I’ve lost count of the number of people who have told me they feel they don’t have the right amount of expertise to consult or that they need more experience before they feel they can freelance. The ones saying this are usually already very experienced, complete experts! There is always someone who has not had your experiences who can learn from you or benefit from your professional experience.
If you have recently graduated or if you are early on in your career and are wanting to jump into the world of remote work or freelancing – don’t panic. Starting a remote job is the same as starting any other job. You do not need to know everything straight away. You just need to know enough to make a start and show a strong willingness to learn and grow! You don’t have to be an expert or have all the experience immediately either if you can show that you can do the job.
Look at job descriptions of roles you are interested in. Remember, all skills are transferable skills. You might find you already have the right experiences gained through different ways. Showcase your work to date from past employers, clients, work experience, volunteering or school projects: in your CV, on your LinkedIn profile, on a portfolio website, ask for references from previous employers, clients or teachers.
If you don’t have the relevant experience, be proactive and find opportunities to get the experience that you need. Do you have a friend who runs a business who needs social media help? Do you know anyone you could write for or build a simple website for to gain the experience you need? Are there any charities you support who you could organise an event for?
Belief #3: You need to specialise in one specific skill
We now live in a world of flexible work, side hustles and portfolio careers. Many of us are multi-passionates, multi-potentialites, multi-hyphenates – whatever words you choose to use, they show that many of us do or want to wear many hats at the same time.
Do you want to keep your full-time job while running a food stall on weekends and review books online in the evenings? Go for it!
Maybe you want to learn everything from graphic design, copywriting, web-building to social media campaigns? Those all complement each other – sure, master each new skill one by one and you’ll be able to provide an all-in-one service.
You’re a programmer by day and a dance teacher by night? Excellent, tell me more about it.
Make sure you choose things that really work well for you and be clear when you’re communicating to clients what your various skills are that you have to offer. Other than that, there is no real reason why you can’t jump into different projects or skills that you are passionate about and become a specialist in all of them. It’ll work in your favour to build up multiple skills. As the world of work keeps changing, it’s becoming increasingly evident that businesses will need ‘generalists’ more and more.
Belief #4: You need a university degree
If you have a look at the backgrounds of many of the young start-up or social enterprise founders of today, you’ll see that many did not attend university, most are self-taught or learnt on the job. That is not to say that you shouldn’t go to university at all because it depends on what your goals are and what profession you dream of entering. I would say though that it is not a compulsory requirement for everyone to have a degree before you can land the role of your dreams – remote or otherwise –as long as you’re willing to get your hands dirty, get stuck in at work and learn on the job.
University degrees on a CV have traditionally acted as a filter for big corporates and recruitment agencies. Whenever I’ve interviewed and hired new team members in the past (and even now on behalf of clients), I’ve placed much more value on experience and character over anyone’s educational history. I’ve often even hired team members with no direct experience at all because they could demonstrate that they are very willing to learn and that they will be able to do the job well.
Belief #5: You have to start from scratch
Another common belief I have heard many times from different people this year is how in order for you to transition into remote work or freelancing you need to start from square one in something completely new. Even if you do want to have a career change (which is exciting, fantastic news!), I still recommend using what you know! Use your existing skills and knowledge to make your transition.
Leveraging the skills and knowledge you already have to make your jump with save you time and make your shift easier! If you’re upskilling because you’re keen to add an extra string to your bow, yes, by all means retrain and take a course – but you don’t need to retrain just to go freelance if you can already do so with what you know.
Once you’ve worked out what you can offer as a freelancer, then start before you’re ready! Starting could mean telling your friends and family you’re looking for freelance work, posting about it online, it could mean signing up to a course to up-skill, creating your first video, writing your first song, applying for that role even if you don’t meet every single one of the requirements in the job description, registering with a freelancers agency, or pitching to a few magazines to write articles.
Belief #6: You must have formal training or be certified
I’m a big champion of ongoing learning and personal/professional development and support everyone who wants to continue their education or become certified. What I will say is that having no formal training in certain roles shouldn’t stop you from going out there and gaining valuable experience or giving it a try.
There are many people who do not have a certificate or who have no training who are already working in the types of roles you hope to shift into. I’ve had many people tell me about a few courses they completed in previous years where the main benefits they felt they gained were to be able to include the course name into their CV’s or in meeting fellow students they had met who became a part of their future network!
While many courses will provide you with more knowledge and new skills, depending on what you are looking for, you will still find many opportunities where you do not need to have any formal training or be certified. Previous experience and recommendations from past employers or clients will give you the same standing if not more. Make sure you get lots of experience in your chosen field on top of any formal training that you do decide to gain.
We hope this has helped to shake off your doubts or beliefs when it comes to exploring remote work and freelance opportunities. Have you seen a remote role you should apply for? Are you psyching yourself up to send off that pitch for a new freelance contract? As Shia LaBeouf says in the video below: “JUST DO IT! Nothing is impossible!” 😀
If you’re considering a shift into remote work, what is holding you back from starting? Let us know in the comments or contact us here. You can read more about where to start when looking for remote work here.
Are you a freelancer or a recruiter? We’d love to hear what you think! Share your thoughts and experiences with us here.