I decided to go freelance about 5 years ago. Well, not really. I went on maternity leave, and then back to work, and then back on (extended) maternity leave, and then I started getting work while on leave, and then I realized I kind of liked this half way house. I wasn’t happy being in the office and away from the kids full time, and the periods when I didn’t work I’d go insane, but this middle ground seemed to have the best of both worlds.
I started slow: I’d get a job, focus on that for a month or two, and then go back to being a full time mom, but feeling renewed by the fact that I had been travelling, interacting with adults and learning in my field. I’d had a chance to miss my kids, and the swings in the park did not seem so boring after spending time in refugee camps.
Soon I got lucky and found a large client that had so many evaluations a year they did the recruitment in bulk. This had two advantages: first, by March I knew what I was doing until the end of the year, which meant I could plan around it, and second, because all my work was with the same client, it was easy to juggle different jobs at the same time. In short, I was spoiled. Yes, it meant that sometimes interesting work would come my way during the year which I had to turn down, but you wont hear me complaining about that.
This went on for a couple of years and finally finished in April. So now now I’m in between jobs, otherwise known as unemployed-until-further-notice. I find this both exhilarating and terrifying.
The upside is that I’m getting around to doing all that stuff that I normally never have time for, like getting my kid to a dermatologist now that the wart is almost bigger than her. Or looking into that allergic reaction I had the last time I got on a plane, which apparently requires me to carry an epipen at all times to avoid death. You know, just catching up with admin.
Another thing that I have managed to get around to doing is looking into all those rosters and calls for consultants floating around and, OH-MY-GOD, applying for short term consultancies these days is harder than childbirth. You practically have to do the damn job in order to send in the proposal. There seem to be a few new practices around since I was last ‘out there,’ and frankly, I would like to highlight a couple of things to the people doing the recruitment from this end:
- the period that you expect my offer to be valid for should not exceed the actual time of the consultancy, and it should certainly not triple it.
- also, asking me to be legally bound to accept this consultancy in any time frame at all is kind of out of order since you might not give it to me at all. In short, you can’t (shouldn’t) ask me to turn jobs down on the basis that you might want me
- and what is up with the panel interview? I mean, it’s bad enough to do this for an actual post, but really? You want to do this for under six months? You want to have people asking technical questions they don’t understand, like:
‘what indicators would you use for youth’
to which I replied ‘there is no such thing as indicators for youth, per se, they need to be developed according to your objectives, actually, if this is an end of project evaluation and you haven’t worked out the indicators yet we are both in deep shit here’
but only in my head, because I am thinking that answer was not going to get me the job. I’m that strategic
- Neither is it going to help to point out that they are hiring me for 65 days (for what would no doubt require more time), and at the same time giving me a deadline to hand the report that adds up to less than 50 days from today, because that is when the donor is expecting it, but apparently pointing out simple mathematics is NOT helpful.
- Don’t expect me to calculate costs, including travel, if you are not telling me where I’m going and for how long. Also, when makes a difference, for the most part prices double during summer months, and we both know the timetable attached is irrelevant, especially as it states I stated this job two weeks ago.
- Don’t schedule conference calls without taking into account time differences, and if you see my skype on in the middle of MY night don't call. Remember, I live here, so the fact that I am here does not make it ok for you to try to engage. That applies to weekends too.
- Do not, under any circumstance, send me an email that reads “what is your best price” (I kid you not). I am not selling jewellery by the sea in Egypt. I would not dream of asking that from my lawyer and neither should you.
In short, we are potentially about to enter into a work relationship where you hold most of the cards, but you should not abuse this, mainly because it’s not right, but also, because your hair might fall off due to bad karma, on a sunny day, when you don’t have access to SPF.
So be nice to me, or you might end up with cancer.