Freelancers know no age

reading time: 5min | #freelancers #estimonials | March 10, 2023 | Melanie Deblanc

Tuesday evening 18:45, Microsoft Teams, ... somewhere in Ghent, Anzegem and Dendermonde three computer screens light up. I have the honor and pleasure of having 2 GIGHOUSE freelancers sit at the virtual table this evening. Not just two randomly chosen freelancers. No... Lowie belongs to our youngest group of freelancers and Robert (Rob for the friends) belongs rather to our...euh... most experienced (?) Freelancers. Two gentlemen with quite some age difference, but with 1 big common denominator: they sit at the table as two extremely passionate freelancers. Expert in their craft, driven by the assignments they complete ... day in and day out. The reason why I brought them together is obvious. For some time now, you see companies actively working on "recruiting without prejudice." Full of admiration, we follow our Accent Jobs-colleagues in their specific approach to "open-minded-hiring". An innovative way of recruiting with the main aim of making the labor market better and fairer by getting rid of (unconscious) prejudices via anonymous CVs and open selection moments. So for permanent hires, we have clearly defined where we can do better....and we are actively working to change mindsets. But what about freelancers? Do we have the same biases there, should we also actively introduce "blind hiring" or does the selection process work slightly differently here? This is why we put one of our youngest and one of our oldest freelancers at the table. To put this question to them. Rob, freelancer since 2003, is immediately clear: "I love to work!". "Before 2003, I had my own company and from the vast experience I gained there, I saw an opportunity to use my expertise as a freelancer. 20 years ago, however, the step to start freelancing was not so obvious. Today, fortunately, it is completely different and you also notice that more people are taking the step."


We immediately name the proverbial elephant in the room.... "Rob, how old are you anyway?" and Rob is again straightforward: "I'm going to owe you that answer. I was asked about my specific age during a job interview some time ago. I'm very clear about that: my exact age doesn't matter. What matters to him is the click we have to have. When it turned out that the manager of the company where I had that particular job interview was himself 83, the "age question" was quickly brushed off the table.

Lowie is 26 years old and has been active as a freelance Digital Marketer. Lowie indicates that he became self-employed earlier from the drive to set up an agency. That soon turned out to be not so easy and therefore he took the step to offering his expertise within all kinds of companies/assignments. We know Lowie within GIGHOUSE as a very driven man who gives his best to our clients every day.

Over to the big question then right away: prejudice.... Have you had to deal with them and how do you define them?

Lowie bears the brunt: "In all honesty, I haven't had to deal with that yet." Granted, digital marketing is a discipline that hasn't been around very long. Perhaps this is why my age is not taken into consideration when considering hiring me as a freelancer. Because of the knowledge I have within digital marketing, I am often the one who comes into a company with the necessary expertise that is really missing there. It is then about the expert who comes to inform and assist them correctly, age is clearly an afterthought here.

At Rob the same story and he also has a clear vision on this: "as a company, you take less risk to work with a freelancer. If you apply as a permanent employee, they rather quickly think you're going to be too expensive or sick a lot. With freelancers, companies take less risk. They benefit from extensive experience within a regime with very high flexibility. I indicate myself that if they have doubts about me on my first day of work, they should just say so and we can stop working together. Honest and transparent. That lasts the longest."
Lowie concurs with Rob: "Skills are most important, and the flexibility of setting up or stopping collaborations makes working with freelancers very accessible."

As matchmakers, we can only agree with what both gentlemen indicate. To claim that prejudice never exists in freelancer recruitment might be a bridge too far. But in all honesty ... age, gender, creed ... We mostly see that skills, experience, knowledge of tools, expertise, availability and rate are at the center of introductory conversations between freelancers and clients.

Experience, skills, ... Things that also come with age I guess? Can both gentlemen learn from each other, I wonder?
Lowie indicates that it would be nice to spar with a freelancer who has been working for some time, and who operates in the same niche. He cites "pricing" as an example. "Did I miss assignments because of my rate I set? Is my rate feasible? Sparring with someone who has been "in the business" longer would be helpful then."
Rob himself indicates that he also used to feel the need to have someone next to him to consult with. The most important tip to Lowie: "always follow your gut feeling." "I have taken many courses in my life, but I have also learned a lot about different situations I have experienced...dealing with a difficult customer for example...you don't always learn that in theory."

What does the future now look like for the two gentlemen? What ambitions am I still detecting here?
Lowie has a clear picture! He wants to delve further into the wonderful world of e-commerce and also make even more use of the flexibility within his freelance status. Working remotely as much as possible is one of my future objectives.
Rob puts it beautifully (and admittedly, I melt a little): "You guys at GIGHOUSE have given me my dream job and I just really want to keep doing this. I can use all my skills, experience and talent within this company and I feel great. This feels like working in a company where I am at home."

And believe me.... Work both these gentlemen do very hard!
Rob works 3 days a week through GIGHOUSE and on the other days he works for (his own) other clients. Lowie works an average of 50 hours through GIGHOUSE per week, and after hours and on weekends he supplements this with his own assignments. "When I'm not working, I'm tutoring to further develop myself."
Rob no longer takes active courses, but reads a lot and does follow all the news closely.
I mentioned it at the beginning of this article: two incredibly active passionate freelancers who work on a daily basis with tremendous drive.

Finally, one last question.... One for the road.... To unlearn it then 😉
Specifically, what can you learn from each other right now?
Lowie: "Negotiating and setting boundaries are probably things you learn over the years and Rob can certainly teach me about that."
Rob:" I am amazed at Lowie's drive and think it is great to hear that he is working on so much. The amount of work while continuing to develop himself is very nice to see."

I am extremely grateful to both gentlemen for the time they have made available and I remember above all: with freelancers we put expertise first! And if you do, at one time or another, suffer from a small (unconscious) bias, we will help you focus on what really matters: putting the right expert in the right place.


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