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self-employed writerA few years ago I met with a Raleigh advertising agency to review their copywriting needs, tell them about my work, and see if my contributions would be a good fit. They had been looking for a freelance copywriter and I scheduled a meeting in response to this. After reviewing samples and my resume, they agreed on a date. The meeting started like this:

Agency [looking down at my resume]: So you’ve been unemployed for a year now?
Me: No, I run a freelance writing business.
Agency: Right, you’re unemployed.
Me: Far from it. I resigned from my salaried job a year ago. I have been writing full-time since then. Press releases, magazine articles, web copy, everything you are looking for in a freelance copywriter.

I was perplexed. They were looking for a freelancer. My resume clearly noted each position with relevant work. Needless to say, at this point it was clear we had differing views and we left the meeting with a mutual disinterest in each other’s work.

It seems the government has a similar warped view when defining whether or not an individual is unemployed if they are a freelancer. The Freelancers Union posted interesting information last month from founder Sara Horowitz on how the nation’s unemployment numbers are skewed as a result of labor departments not factoring in the growing number of freelancers.

I think the freelancer equivalent of hearing nails on a chalkboard is seeing a friend on LinkedIn lose their job and change their job title to “Self-Employed” or “Freelancer” until someone else hires them. As if this title is not good enough for a constant presence? Sending your resume out everyday is not self-employment.

Based on the Horowitz piece, it appears an even smaller number of Americans are truly sending their resumes out daily with no income unemployed. Perhaps when you hear about the growing unemployment rate you should think:

Right, higher unemployment, you mean—more freelancers.