We often hear people say, “You need a job to get experience, but you also need experience to get a job”. This is true in most cases since recruiters often prefer hiring those who are experienced in their field. According to the NACE Job Outlook survey, nearly all (91 percent) employers said they prefer their candidates to have work experience, and 65 percent of the total group indicated that they prefer their candidates to have relevant work experience. In addition, as far as how a graduate’s work experience was gained, more than half of the survey respondents prefer that it comes from an internship or co-op.
The good thing is, the programming field is so broad that you can even start your job search with no job experience in a big co-op or internship. However, there are two requirements you should meet here: First, you need to find an employer who is willing to hire coders or programmers who have a little less experience. Why “little less”? Because the second requirement is that you need to upskill your skills by doing some gig work.
What is gig work?
In a simple term, gig is a freelance job where a person works for themselves. This is different from freelancing because gig jobs do not need to sign a contract with a company. Gig workers are completely self-employed.
By doing gig work, you can fill a special gap in the software engineering industry. This typically takes on jobs that are too small, too specialised, or too experimental to warrant hiring a full-time employee. Therefore, employers usually turn to gig-freelancers when they need to get a temporary job done.
Why should you do gig jobs?
Doing gig jobs will not give you full perks and benefits like full-time employees. You will not receive benefits, 401K pension, huge paycheck or even job security. So, why still doing this? Wouldn’t it better to stick with a job hunt?
Gigs are usually small and only require a few hours or a week to finish a project as employers usually do not want to hire gig freelancers for a long time. Yet, there are some employers who will use your service on repeat if you are proven to have the ability to meet their expectations. The work also requires less experience to complete.
Gigs can also give you an opportunity to work for a lot of different people and on a lot of different projects. This is a great opportunity to do some exploration to find out what you truly like, whether it would be coding audio players, games, live streaming or video conferencing, etc.
In short, employers do not have long-term commitments between you and them. No employee badges are printed, and no HR department should be involved. The job is pretty easy as you can do with less experience. The job will also teach you how to build trust, relationships, and meet the client’s expectations. All of these will help your job search easier.
Who will hire gig-workers then?
Your clients can range from entrepreneurs or intrapreneurs who are looking to build a proof of concept for an idea to individuals who have programming problems. These individuals usually have a low budget to start hiring experienced workers, thus, they turn to gig freelancers.
How to start?
Gig jobs are promising but there are a few things you should pay attention to if you want your gigs run smoothly.
Find the right marketplace
There are numerous gig markets out there. If you register to the wrong one, it will be tough for you to get the right clients. Typically, there are three niche markets: geographical focus, technological focus, and problem-space focus. These three are good to start, yet each of them has its own advantage for you.
- Geographical focus is usually built for local communities, meaning you can find entrepreneurs or clients in your local communities. You can easily meet them around your state.
- Technological focus focuses on particular technologies. This is good for you if you have some experience or knowledge about a broad range of technology.
- Problem-space focus is a targeted gig which can be broken down into a broad of freelancing sites, such as software marketplace, writer marketplace, or developer marketplace.
Apply for the gigs
After targeting your niche, it is time to start the search. First, you need to apply to freelance websites such as upwork.com or freelance.com. Then, have a conversation with an employer and convince them that you can solve their problem. You might be required to send an email or fill a form but it does not weigh more as long as you can build a trusted communication with your targeted employer.
In your conversation, it is vital to let them know that you can solve their problem, how many hours or long it will take to solve it, and why you are a good match for them. You can include a few links to your past projects that are similar to what the client looks for.
But I am new and I have no similar project, what should I do? If you have this question, it should not stop you. Instead, you can take this as your advantage by letting the client know that you are new to the freelancing world so that is why your rate is so low. You can also tell them that you need the project to build up a good portfolio. However, emphasise that even if you are new, you have a lot of experience in the particular industry. Remember your past experience when you help your friends or build a project with your friends, etc.
Last but not least, always have a follow-up conversation with your clients. Whether it is about a new project or just want to get in touch with them for future collaboration. The follow up is the most essential that helps you build a wider relationship with like-minded people.