Many young adults struggle when it comes to choosing a career. That was never the case for Cheyenne Hicks. “I’ve always been a huge people person – all about pleasing people,” she says. “The reason I got into the medical field was that my grandma was a hospital manager. I’ve just always wanted to follow in her footsteps.”
Two years ago, Hicks became a professional certified nursing aide (CNA) and is now studying to become a certified medication aide (CMA). Both are in high demand at assisted living centers and nursing homes across the country. In addition, Hicks has become a professional temp. “I love temping. If someone asked me, I would definitely recommend going through a temp agency, instead of going directly to a nursing home or assisted living home.”
Hicks has joined with the 53 million Americans currently working as professional freelancers. She finds ideal jobs with the help of TRAC Staffing, a temporary employment service with offices in Oklahoma and Arkansas.
“TRAC Staffing is a full-service staffing company with job opportunities in almost every sector of business, medical, and manufacturing,” said Kasey Moran, CEO of TRAC Staffing. “The majority of our jobs require advanced training, certification, or expertise in the related field, so we really focus on recruiting the right personnel for each of our job openings.”
A Growing Trend
According to a recent SAP and Oxford Economics report, 83 percent of executives said they plan to increase the use of contingent, intermittent, or consultant employees in the next three years. The benefits are clear: employers have a wide pool of readily available talent who don’t require a fixed salary (including health insurance, Social Security taxes, and workers’ compensation) every month. However, what that report doesn’t mention is that more and more workers are choosing freelance work over a traditional 9-to-5 job. The number one advantage: the independence to design your own schedule.
Benefit #1: Freedom
“When you work with a temp agency you can pick the days and the hours you want to work,” says Hicks. A survey by the Freelancers Union and Elance-oDesk found that 34 percent of the workforce is working as freelancers (“individuals who have engaged in supplemental, temporary, or project- or contract-based work in the past 12 months”). The survey also found that most people believe freelancing is more respected than it was even three years ago. When asked, “Why did you choose to freelance?” the main answer given was the freedom to set a schedule and work on interesting and challenging opportunities.
“If you want to work overtime, you can do that as well,” says Hicks. “There are always shifts that need to be picked up. Or, if you want to swap shifts it’s easy to do that as well because people are always looking for CNAs and CMAs.”
Benefit #2: Money
According to January 2015 employment data, the job market is strengthening and unemployment is falling. However, there’s a key piece to the recovery that’s missing: wage growth. In fact, by the close of 2014, hourly wage growth decelerated to the slowest pace since October 2012. On the flipside, 77 percent of freelancers surveyed said they currently make more or the same amount of money than they did before they started freelancing. “Honestly,” said Hicks, “when I first applied I thought that I would work with TRAC Staffing and make less, but I actually get paid more.”
Benefit #3: Happiness
Yet another survey, this one conducted overseas, found that being unhappy in a full-time position is a good predictor of workers who will move to temporary employment. The survey also found that 81 percent of temporary workers were satisfied or very satisfied with their current work status. “I’ve said that hiring a temp is like taking a car out for a test drive,” said Moran, “well, that’s true for the temp workers, too. Our goal is to help the right people find the right position.” “I mean, if I don’t want to work at the place I’m at I can just say, ‘Hey, send me someplace else’ and they will,” said Hicks. “But as long as I’m happy where I’m at, they’re fine with keeping me there. And as long as the place I’m at is happy with me being there, they’re not going to move me.”
Overcoming the Downside
When asked about the downside to freelancing, the two biggest barriers identified by freelancers are a lack of stable income and difficulty finding jobs. Interestingly, Hicks seems to have found the solution to both hurdles. “It’s really not like I’m working through a temp agency,” she said. “It’s really like a regular job – except I can pick my days and hours and if I can’t make it to work, I just call up and let the agency know what’s going on. It’s like they already have a back-up plan in case something does happen. They’re prepared.”