New Study Suggests Winning Strategy For Freelancerse_darrellj | Feb 24, 2014
If you’re looking to win more jobs on Elance, you may want to lean in when Ming D. Leung speaks about Stretchwork.
Ming D. Leung is an Assistant Professor at the Hass School of Business on the University of California’s Berkeley campus. He specializes in economic sociology and the study of online labor markets. Ming has recently published an enlightening article outlining his findings in the area of “Stretchwork” (in layman’s terms – ever-so slightly broadening your skillset and work experience to your economic advantage).
In the article, Ming reports that freelancers are more-likely to get hired when having an incrementally expanding career path.
The benefits of incremental career growth.
More specifically, this means that you’ll be more successful on Elance by moving between similar, but not identical, types of jobs.
The paper also concludes that despite conventional wisdom, if you work exclusively on one specific type of job, you’re actually less likely to be hired.
An example would be a graphic designer. If you work solely on logo projects day-in and day-out, eventually you’ll be pigeonholed as exclusively a logo designer. Hence you’re not as desirable. But if you branch out to also design websites, brochures, and book covers, you’re more likely to get hired.
And important footnote is that the research suggests “incremental” stretching, not enormous leaps. “If you’re a writer who also does tax preparation, that’s not going to help you,” said Ming.
It makes sense when you think about it.
The underlying reason for this, as Assistant Professor Ming D. Leung explains, appears to be two-fold:
1. By stretching, clients see you as more committed to your career and they have more confidence in your abilities.
2. Clients want to build ongoing and ever-expanding relationships with freelancers who they’re comfortable working with. By seeing a broader range of skills in a background, they can project using that freelancer in various roles down the road.
To gather information for this study, Ming, an advisor to Elance, analyzed hundreds of thousands of job applications and tens of thousands of freelancer profiles on Elance. To take a closer look at his methodology and findings you can view his article, “Dilettante or Renaissance Person? How the Order of Job Experiences Affects Hiring in an External Labor Market,” published in the American Sociological Review.
Note that Ming is now building on the study, researching the role “online reputations” plays in this mix. As soon as he determines how your ratings and reviews factor into the big picture, we’ll let you know. Around here we can’t wait for the results.