Freelancers know that the key to a steady paycheck is proving their value to their clients every single day.

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Whatever happened to the “secure” job you started after high school or college and then, 40-something years later, walked away from with a gold watch, a tidy pension and warm, fuzzy feelings?

Gone, all gone.

Today, your continued employment rests on your ability to contribute to the continuing and future success of your employer. Past performance is just that — past. Loyalty? Sadly, it’s just not a part of the corporate scene anymore. Even if you love your employers and they love you, your company may go bankrupt, or be acquired, or decide to offload your department.

If you are looking for a job, you have no doubt already figured out that, even though the economy is slowly showing improvement, many firms are still hesitant to hire full-timers.

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So it may behoove you to take some tips from a segment of society that has never enjoyed a ton of employment security: freelancers.

Freelancers know that the key to a steady paycheck is proving their value to their clients every single day. They never forget the need to consistently be a client’s best “employee.” They’re always looking for ways to promote themselves. They know they can’t afford to get too comfortable. Freelancers are basically always looking for a job, and that is where their strength lies.

Specifically, here are the things freelancers do well that now we all need to do, all the time:

  • Know the market rate for your skills.
  • Maintain a high profile through networking.
  • Keep certifications current.
  • Keep a cushion of money set aside, just in case.
  • Get all agreements/promises in writing.
  • Establish authority in your field (write articles, keep a blog, attend conferences).
  • Have a long-range career plan that you are constantly re-evaluating.

Working like a freelancer, even if you have a “regular” position, ensures that you will always be ready to bounce back from a job loss. Taking control of your destiny? Now that’s job security.

Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use. Email her at