Style Living Self Geeky News and Views
In the Paper

Online and freelance jobs are booming in new era of employment

By KAREN AVERION PANGAN Published Oct 14, 2020 1:29 pm

If there’s a silver lining to the pandemic, it’s that job openings are booming in the digital space. Employment opportunities ranging from freelance work to per-project basis can now be easily accessed online

4.6 million. That’s the number of Filipinos that were still jobless in July, three months after the March lockdown, according to a report by the Philippine Statistics Authority.

As cities quarantined and people retreated to their homes in March, job cuts from various industries followed, some even leading to the total closure of businesses, big and small.

There’s no doubt that the pandemic has caused massive shifts in employment but other industries started soaring above others as business goals and needs shifted.

Some of the most affected by the pandemic are those in creative fields. The latest tally reports 5,549 lost projects and a total of P269 million lost income.

According to ILostMyGig.com, a website where people can tally if they’ve lost a job and request for relief funds, some of the most affected by the current situation are those in the creative fields, particularly artists, theater practitioners, cultural workers, and those in the events industry. The latest tally from the website reported 5,549 lost projects and a total of P269 million lost income.

Jobstreet.com, moreover, also shared in one of their reports that other industries like security and protective services, engineering, merchandising, and retail have cut back on hiring.

The shift in available jobs puts focus on certain skills and demands drastic adjustments to job seekers.

On the other hand, jobs in customer service, healthcare, and education industries are on the rise in response to the current needs from the pandemic. The IT industry is another close runner as the majority of the workforce pivoted to claiming their spot in the digital space.

It’s clear that the job landscape is moving fast towards a new era. The shift, of course, puts focus on certain skills and demands drastic adjustments to job seekers as well.

The new era of jobs

If there’s a silver lining to the situation, it’s that job openings boomed in the digital space. Employment opportunities ranging from freelance work to per-project basis can now be easily accessed online—something that some of the biggest online communities are trying to bridge currently.

“For me, there’s not much of a change in terms of the types of jobs and the urgency of the positions,” shares Issa Bacsa, a freelance author and a member of the Freelance Writers Guild of the Philippines (FWGP).

The FWGP is a DOLE-registered workers’ organization and legal entity that started a community for freelance writers in the country in 2011. “One thing I’ve noticed is the term, ‘temporarily work from home.’ That means that companies are still hoping that everything will be back to normal.”

“The freelance community has been increasing over the years, but the trend accelerated at an unprecedented rate during the pandemic. Moreover, the multi-hyphenate freelance arrangements, those that assign more than one job to workers, are now becoming normal. Job posts range from writing and layout, website design, virtual assistance, etc.,” Jofti Villena, executive director of FWGP adds.

This is something supported by Jobstreet.com’s report about the job landscape shifting into a more “employer-centric” approach. According to the job board, fresh graduates, in particular, are encouraged to upskill to increase their competitive advantage in the job market.

Micky Domingo, founder of the Independent Creative & Advertising Professionals (ICAP), also noticed the spike of demand in their online group. ICAP, which was established in 2010, is another digital community where creatives can look for opportunities and discuss ideas with people in the same industry.

Some of the big advertising agencies have started to freeze hire and have downsized, looking instead to outsource projects.

Domingo says, “Prior to the pandemic, job offers were mostly on a per-project basis. But there were not a lot of employment opportunities nor projects to offer the community. A few months into the pandemic though, I noticed the membership started to increase. In February 2020, we have 75,000 members. Now it has grown to 85,000.

“I also observed a great shift for job postings. I observed a growing need of SMEs, head hunters searching for experts in the field of digital campaign creation, app developers, website designers, social media content specialists, etc. due to the shift to reach consumers in online platforms.”

He adds, “Some of the big advertising agencies have started to freeze hire and have downsized. They are now looking into our community as a creative pool to outsource for usually one-off projects.”

Work is just a click away

In a time when everyone is doing almost everything online, groups and guilds like the ICAP and FWGP are exactly the communities that we need.

The FWGP regularly posts job openings that they have personally sourced and screened to protect their members. From posting every Sunday, the group, which has a full functioning executive committee, is now posting job opportunities every day to meet the demands of the employers and provide help to job seekers.

Jobs in customer service, healthcare and education industries are on the rise in response to the current needs in the pandemic.

“The regular job postings have made members feel more hopeful that there are, indeed, opportunities. The pandemic has not closed its doors especially for companies who have shifted to focus more on their social media channels,” says Gina Lumaig, head of the Media & Communications Committee of FWGP.

ICAP, on the other hand, tied up with other companies to advertise jobs to their members. “This is on top of HR and headhunters offering jobs in our group,” Domingo shared.

A thriving community

As cliche as it sounds, the worst times do bring out the best in others. Besides providing opportunities to their members, online communities have also become a haven for freelancers to find support and inspiration.

“Another way ICAP is helping its members is by providing support to those who are anxious given these trying times. One of our missions is to support, empower, inspire, and look out for each other. Every member can share their stories, tips, and advice to inspire and uplift one another during these challenging times,” Domingo elaborates.

The group currently has two topic boards where every member can participate—Tips & Advice for New Freelancers, and Opportunities in Times of Crisis.

FWGP, on the other hand, helped some of its members financially by collecting solicitations from various personalities and some of its members.

Others offered short-term projects to writers in need. This allowed the guild to provide modest funding to several writers and facilitated assistance to them via various government agencies.

A piece of advice from experts to freelancers: Stick to your price despite the crisis and learn to negotiate.

Advice to job seekers

Opportunities may be booming in the digital space but professionals suggest for everyone to be discerning when hunting for a job online.

“Look at the job post closely and research about the company. If the employer asks you for a writing sample test, for example, don’t do it. Most likely, they won’t pay you for that. Instead, direct them to your online portfolio or website. Also, if an employer doesn’t offer you a contract, initiate to offer your own Independent Contractor contract. That way, you can work your statement of work (SOW) as a freelancer rather than as an employee. Let them know that you know what you’re doing,” Bacsa says.

Villena adds, “Stick to your price despite the crisis and learn to negotiate.”

Just like in every crisis, there are always ways to go around a problem if one is willing to work.

Domingo shares a good piece of advice to summarize all this.“A friend of mine said, there is opportunity in every crisis so reinvent yourself to answer a need that was never there.”