Why your portfolio could lose or land the next freelance gig you go for

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It’s no secret that the jobs market is lively at the moment, with the latest ONS statistics informing us that there are well over a million vacancies – including freelance roles – in the UK, writes Terry Payne, global managing director of creative industries recruitment firm Aspire.

Walking in to your next opportunity? Not necessarily

Factor in the strong business demand for flexible workers, such as freelancers and contractors, and these workers have an abundance of choices. This is true whether you’re a copywriter, marketeer, PR consultant, or designer.

That’s not to say freelance creatives will necessarily walk into their next contract with ease, though. As many FreelanceUK readers know, this industry is highly-competitive. When it comes to well-paid work, regardless of a vacancy being in-house or at an agency, there are often lots of others vying for the same project.

What we saw in Q1 2023...

In the first three months of 2023, the sheer number of applications that our recruitment consultants received for just a single attractive freelance creative role highlights the importance of a strong application. This is essential to help you stand out from the crowd and convince a recruiter that you’re the right person to put forward for the project.

Fundamental to achieving this – and submitting an application which ticks all the right boxes – is having an up-to-date portfolio and CV, as both help you demonstrate that you already possess the key skills and competencies required for the role.

Don't miss the obvious -- nobody wants an outdated 'you'

This might sound obvious. However, you’d be surprised at how many applications we’ve seen in this first quarter which were sent in by freelancers which are noticeably dated.

Let’s not forget, a freelancer works on many different projects compared to permanent employees, who might only move on once every few years, if that. This means a freelancer’s portfolio and CV need updating much more often.

So whether it’s ensuring your work history is current or including examples of work that aligns with the skills required in the brief, tender or advert, this quick fix could make the difference to your next application.

Naivety, juggling, and seeing portfolio updating as part of the gig

I’m not naive, though. I know that many freelancers are time-poor and, along with juggling client work – and everything else that comes part and parcel with being self-employed – freshening up your CV and portfolio might not be a priority.

But the fact of the matter is that it could hold the key to winning your next opportunity. So my advice would be to pencil in time at the end of every project – or upon the completion of every significant piece of work or campaign – to update your portfolio, along with your CV.

Making this a non-negotiable – something that becomes part of the job, so-to-speak – will make life a lot easier when it comes to going forward for new contracts. As I said, it’s a small oversight that freelance creatives, in particular, can easily sort – one that could prove decisive in securing an interview for your next assignment.

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