A recession is coming. Or is it? If you've been paying attention over the past year or so, you're probably just as confused as we are. Despite continual forecasts of the next big market slump, things seem to keep on ticking.
On the other hand, maybe the real lesson runs deeper. Perhaps it doesn't matter whether we actually experience a recession — the most important thing is how employers react to the mere possibility, and they've already started.
Even if fear doesn't lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy of impending economic doom, companies are getting wary. Many have already changed the way they hire as a result. In fact, if you're a professional freelancer, the possibility of a recession could mean more opportunities. Here's why.
Skittish Markets Make for Unpredictable Hiring Trends
Recession fears impacting hiring is nothing new — it happens every time people get wind of possible downswings. This particular cycle has been in the works for a while, too: As early as November 2022, observers noted that high-tech businesses were cutting jobs after possibly over-expanding during the pre-pandemic economic years.
A survey released in October 2022 found that 98 percent of CEOs were getting ready for a recession. When it didn't come, many leaders decided to shore up their defences anyway. By February 2023, around 68 percent of CEOs said they planned to increase hiring within the next year or so — even though they still thought a recession was inevitable.
This isn't that astonishing — market analysts predicted that things could pick up sometime during 2023, even though 1.3 million jobs might vaporize along the way. None of these forecasts are quite worthy of revelation status since recessions are temporary by definition.
The basic takeaway? Economic prediction isn't an exact science. It's best to hedge your bets no matter which side of the labour equation you fall on.
Rethinking the Way Work Gets Done
The fundamental question for job seekers isn't whether there will be a recession, dip, or bounce soon. The more pressing issue is how they can keep up with companies and CEOs that — let's be honest — aren't really making the situation any better by reacting to every little fluctuation they read about.
The key thing to remember is that the predictions of recent times must be viewed in context. In other words, we aren't heading into a mysterious recession that came from nowhere: We're probably just seeing the natural slump that comes after most bubbles.
Need an example? Well, when Facebook-Meta dropped around 11,000 workers near the end of 2022, founder Mark Zuckerberg admitted that the company had essentially over-extended its hiring practices after anticipating that the COVID-driven e-commerce boom would somehow magically continue. Experts say he wasn't the only one to make such a mistake — other tech giants also over-hired during the crisis, succumbing to fears of losing out on talent and creating workforces with major skill imbalances as a result.
CEOs aren't blind to these events, and enterprises are accordingly reconsidering how they hire. Companies know they need talent, but they've seen what happened to the big players and want to avoid the same missteps. This might explain why demand for contract and temporary roles surged by 26 percent compared to last year!
A Land of Opportunities for Freelancers
Freelance work has long appealed to those who want to beat the labour market. For instance, many prefer contracting as a way to retain increased control over their compensation and stave off the effects of inflation. Others focus on freelancing to accomplish everything from saving on childcare to diversifying their skills in search of broader career opportunities.
It's not hard to see the employability benefits either. For instance, companies that know they can't sustain full-time employees for all of the positions they need to fill commonly turn to freelancers. One 2022 survey found that 43 percent of business owners planned on leveraging a similar strategy.
In short, if the market isn't going to provide you with the most stable career paths, you might as well be flexible. Opening the doors to contract work is a great way to gain instant career latitude and explore new opportunities.
Entering the Freelance Market
If you've already started your journey to on-demand work, great. If not, don't sweat — it's not as scary as it sounds.
Just as you would when seeking out traditional roles, you need to make yourself appealing. The trick is that it's a bit difficult to know what companies are looking for since you're not always applying for specific roles. Some tips to consider include:
- Understanding what makes you uniquely valuable: Stop trying to be all things to all employers. Focus on your specialization, skills, and strengths — and sell yourself that way.
- Knowing the market: Keeping up with tech trends is particularly helpful if you want to appeal to companies. Knowing what skills are broadly in-demand makes it easier to choose more rewarding professional training, build a better portfolio, and see how you stack up to other on-demand workers.
- Becoming an industry leader: Whether you blog, post on social media, or answer questions in tech forums, establishing yourself as a subject matter expert helps you gain massive headway. It builds your credibility, making companies more prone to hire you.
- Going where the jobs are: Online platforms, like Oomple, that vet employment applicants are always a good bet. These venues make talent acquisition easier for companies, so they're a great place to be found.
Freelancing Is the Future of Work — Will You Get Left Behind?
Freelancers are uniquely positioned to survive recessions and emerge (relatively) unscathed. By taking control of their forward career progress, these professionals set themselves up for opportunities their traditional counterparts couldn't even fathom.
Want to start turning recruiters' heads as a skilled contract worker? Check out these pointers on making a career jump, or dive straight into creating your profile on Oomple.