Gain Valuable Skills: Freelancing For Graduates

Gain Valuable Skills: Freelancing For Graduates

Fresh out of university and facing a competitive job market? Don't despair! Freelancing for graduates can be a fantastic way to gain valuable experience, develop essential skills, and make your CV stand out from the crowd.

This article talks about how freelancing, or independent contracting, as we refer to it at RecruitAGraduate, could be a strategic advantage for recent graduates.  Working as an independent contractor is a one-of-a-kind way to not only find work but also strengthen your CV and equip you with the skills employers want. 


What is freelancing for graduates?

A freelance job is one where a person works for themselves, rather than for a company. While freelancers do take on contract work for companies, they are ultimately self-employed.

Freelancers are responsible for all sorts of things that traditional employees are not, such as setting their work hours, keeping track of the time they spend on each job, billing clients, and paying their own business and employment taxes. We will explain more about all of this further in the article.

Companies that hire freelancers don't think of them as "employees." Instead, they call them "independent contractors."


The advantages of freelancing for graduates

Freelancing for graduates provides immense benefits. It not only provides a source of income while you are looking for a permanent job but also offers invaluable experience and skills that can enhance your CV and set you apart from other graduate candidates. 


Diversify your skill set 

Unlike a permanent position, freelancing allows you to work on various projects with different clients in different industries. This exposes you to diverse challenges and situations, helping you expand your skill set and discover your strengths while seeing how different businesses operate.


Gain valuable, practical experience

While theory is essential, practical experience is equally crucial for professional growth as well as an attractive addition to your CV. By freelancing, you can put what you have learned to use in the real world, improving your skills and knowledge of how the industry works. 


Networking opportunities

Freelancing for graduates is a great way to open yourself up to networking opportunities. Every project you undertake introduces you to new clients, collaborators, and industry professionals. 

Building strong relationships can open doors to future job opportunities. 


Increased flexibility and independence

As a freelancer, you can choose your projects, set your schedule, and work from anywhere. This autonomy not only allows you to balance work and personal life but also fosters creativity and productivity. 

This flexibility is also great if you are hoping to upskill with some online courses or if you would like to further your studies.

Read our article: 6 free online courses to boost your CV.


A work portfolio to showcase your skills  

A work portfolio, which is also known as a "career portfolio," "job portfolio," or "professional portfolio," is a way to show possible employers all of your best work. Alongside a CV, your portfolio includes samples of your work, testimonials, and proof of your skills. When applying for tech, marketing, art, and design jobs, portfolios are typically requested.

You can showcase your work on a professional website or on online platforms like Behance or Dribble for creatives, or Portfoliobox for techies. 

Potential employers will be very impressed by this physical proof of your skills.


The advantages of freelancing for your CV

Adding freelancing experience to your CV can significantly enhance your marketability and appeal to potential employers. Here's how freelancing can enhance your CV:


It shows that you demonstrate initiative 

Employers value candidates who take the initiative to gain practical experience and develop skills outside of traditional academic settings.


It indicates that you possess adaptability

Freelancing for graduates demonstrates the ability to adapt to different environments, manage diverse projects, manage various clients and thrive in dynamic work settings. Employers highly value this adaptability because it demonstrates your capacity to thrive in changing environments.


It highlights your specialised skills 

In a regular job, you might use a wider range of skills. But when you're freelancing, you can pick projects that directly use your specific set of skills. This focused application shows possible clients and future employers how knowledgeable you are.

Whether it's coding languages, design software, or digital marketing tools, freelancing allows you to highlight your proficiency in specific skills relevant to your field of interest.


It demonstrates that you have strong time management skills

Juggling multiple projects and deadlines as a freelancer showcases your time management and organisational skills, qualities that employers highly value.


Freelancing for graduates: What you need to know

Freelancing isn't just about working; it's about running a mini-business. Here are some essential things to keep in mind:


You will need a contract before you start on a project

A well-drafted contract protects both you and the client. Outline project scope, deadlines, communication channels, revision policies, and most importantly, payment terms. 

If RecruitAGraduate places you as an independent contract (another name for a freelancer), then the recruitment manager will help you with a contract.


Time management and tracking are essential parts of freelancing

While the beauty of freelancing lies in flexible hours, keeping track of your time spent on projects is crucial. Timesheets will be required when you submit your invoice, so clients can see how much time you spent on a project or if you are paid hourly. They are used to generate time reports and help track work hours, as well as specific project times. This allows you to develop realistic timelines for future projects

Use time-tracking tools like Clockify or Toggl, and organise your workload effectively. 

Remember, you're juggling multiple projects; stay organised to avoid burnout and ensure timely delivery.


Don’t forget about tax as an independent contractor

When you are employed, your employer pays your taxes. As an independent contractor, you're responsible for your taxes. 

If you earn above the tax threshold (around R95,750 for the tax year for individuals under sixty-five), you'll need to register as a provisional taxpayer with the South African Revenue Service (SARS). This means registering for a tax number and estimating your annual income to make bi-annual provisional tax payments. 

Don't worry; there are resources available to help you navigate this process. SARS itself offers information online, and many tax professionals specialise in assisting independent contractors. 

Remember, paying your taxes ensures you stay compliant and avoids any penalties down the line.

By strategically leveraging freelance work, you'll gain valuable experience, build a strong portfolio, and develop essential business skills. Freelancing for graduates becomes a springboard, propelling you towards a fulfilling and successful career.

Let RecruitAGraduate get you started on the path to career success. Register for free. Once registered, complete your online CV to start searching for jobs and internships in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, and Cape Town. We operate nationally in South Africa.

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