How to Successfully Make the Transition from Freelance to Corporate

Cartoon person working in office vs. freelancing

It’s time, you’ve decided. It’s time to hang up the freelance jersey and either move back to the corporate world or enter it for the first time. You’ve decided that moving to a full-time job is now the right move –the question is, how do you transition?

Moving from freelance to full-time will certainly take some getting used to. We won’t lie about that. Below, are some helpful tips for how you can make the shift successfully, keep doing great work, and still love the work you do. 

Feel no shame

If you take nothing else away from this piece, allow this one fact to seep into your brain: you’re not a failure. Moving from the freelance world to a corporate environment doesn’t mean you couldn’t hack it as an entrepreneur, nor does it mean you’re not good at what you do. Life throws curve balls and presents us with decisions, and sometimes, those decisions lead us in entirely new directions.

Rather than feel bad about the direction you’re heading in, embrace it. Don’t look at your job change as an admission that you couldn’t get the job done on your own. View it as an upgrade. You’re now working for a company that can support you and give you the resources you need to be even better at what you do. And the world had better watch out.

Don’t just take any job

When moving from an entrepreneurial position to one in the corporate world, it’s important that you not lose sight of who you are and what you love. Regardless of why you’re changing your work situation, odds are that you enjoyed what you were doing. You might not have loved being in charge of every single aspect, from the billing to the taxes, but you loved the work.

That’s why it’s important that you be very selective when it comes time to look for your new gig. Don’t just take whatever comes down the pike. Get a feel for the job you’ll be doing and the company you’ll be working for. Make sure it’s a good fit. And when you’re absolutely sure that it’s a good match, make the leap. You’ll be far more happy in your new environment if you absolutely love coming into work every day.

Give up the decision-making

This is going to take some getting used to. All those strengths we just talked about? All those responsibilities you once shouldered? They aren’t yours anymore. And you’ll probably have an adjustment period during which you struggle to let others handle the things you used to do.

There are going to be things you don’t agree with. You might have done things a little differently on your own, but you must let it go. You gave up being the boss to join the corporate world, and now you don’t need that stress. View it as a feature, not a bug.

Get ready to take on more tasks

On the flip side, a move to working for “the man” means that you may be asked to do things that, sometimes, aren’t in your wheelhouse. It’s not something you might have had to do a lot as a freelancer. Sure, you balanced the books and paid the bills. But you spent a lot of time doing the work you love.

That’s not always going to happen in the corporate world. Sometimes your company will need you to fill a role that isn’t exactly your specialty. So if the secretary is out for the day and there’s no one to answer the phones, you’ll need to swallow your pride and help the gears turning. If you can learn to do that, you’ll be just fine.

Highlight your strengths

This is where that entrepreneurial streak of yours comes in handy. When you make the change from freelance work to working for a company, you come in with a lot more experience than the typical job applicant. You’ve (almost literally) done it all in your niche.

You’ve essentially spent time in every single department. You’ve done the marketing. You’ve done the accounting. You’ve “hired” people (other freelancers). You’ve networked. You’ve been the executive. You might even have bought and sold businesses. And you’ve put your nose to the grindstone and done the actual work of your profession on top of all of that.

Make a big deal about your experience in job interviews. Put those responsibilities in bold letters on your resume. You’re likely the most versatile employee a company could ever ask for. Own it.

Prepare to feel less free…

This is probably the biggest adjustment you’ll need to make when moving into a corporate job. For better or worse, freelancers work under their own direction. They can work into the night and sleep all day. They can take a long lunch or go see a school play. They can take a laptop to Starbucks and whip up a business on a whim while sipping on a latte.

That’s probably not going to be the case in a corporate environment. In that space, you’re trading your time for money, and you’ll likely be expected to adhere to your company’s work hours and guidelines. It might mean that a work-from-home scenario goes up in smoke. And it could mean that all the freedoms you enjoyed previously are no longer available to you.

You know pledge allegiance to a corporation. And you now have to play by their rules, which will require you to be know how to handle criticism and take direction.

…But appreciate the stress you’re shedding

You are no longer in charge. And you know what? That may feel freeing all on its own. Sure, you can’t just skip out of the office whenever you want. But you also won’t have to grind for those dollars every single second.

No matter your reasons for switching over to the corporate world, just in keep in mind that there will be an adjustment period. You might have to cut your lunches shorter than usual, but you can now splurge on those new boots without worrying if you’ll have enough work to pay for them. As with everything in life, it’s a balancing act. So practice patience and keep in mind the reasons for making the switch.

This post was written by Patrick Foster, who is an e-commerce consultant at Ecommerce Tips. His writing has been featured on popular sites, including: Forbes, Digital Marketing Magazine, and Google’s startup, Grind.

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