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I recently completed my bachelors degree, and I am planning to join an IT company. I have been working as a freelancer for over a year and have a strong profile for the position I am applying.

But most of the company argues that since I don't have any actual working experience, I have to go through the probation period. Doesn't freelancing experience count to filter the probation period if most of my clients can recommend me? And isn't the freelancing the actual working experience? How can I approach this problem and make sure my freelancing experience counts as work experience?

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I wasn't sure whether to post this as a comment, as it's not a direct answer to the question, but it is relevant(ish)...

Your experience prior to the job is valid (whether freelance or otherwise) and will certainly be considered by prospective employers when assessing your CV.

On the other hand, and making an assumption, if the role you have been employed in is a Graduate Role, then your under-graduate work (no matter how valid or relevant) may well not be considered, as HR departments can be notorious box-tickers! [*]

Personal Experience has shown that I've been required to complete probation at every permanent role I've had - even with 25+ years in the Big Wide World, of which 12 were "full time" freelance, and several others were/are part-time freelance.

Probation is a two-way process, which allows you to see if you fit into the company and its culture, as well as the company assessing you.

I certainly wouldn't take offence that you've been asked to undertake a probationary period... if they thought you were not up to the job, they wouldn't have offered you it!


[*] Off topic anecdote: in 2008, I was asked by the MD of my then main client to take on a full-time permanent role within the company. After some negotiation, we shook hands on a deal.

Then HR got involved, and amongst other things, I was required to submit two references (even though I'd been working with the company for several years).

My first two referees were rejected as being inappropriate - the Managing Director and the Engineering Director :) So I had to get two people I hadn't spoken with for nearly five years to act as referees...

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    Yep. Probation periods are more than just about experience. They are also about cultural fit, work ethics and teamwork. – Oded Jul 30 '13 at 13:07
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    Hey Andrew, I edited the question to focus on a solution as well as an explanation of the problem. I think that makes it a better question and may give you more to include so it more directly answers the question. What do you think? – jmort253 Jul 30 '13 at 14:03
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    Longer answer now added. – Andrew Jul 30 '13 at 20:34
  • Thank you so much for sharing your experience. It will help me and hopefully other freelancers to take appropriate decision if they face similar situation. – Konsole Aug 2 '13 at 18:51
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Freelancing experience does count. I have taken roles at companies based on my combined experience at "a real company" along with my freelance experience.

A lot of it comes to your approach and your presentation of your experience. If you pitch your experience as having two jobs and building a customer base instead of "just something I did on the side", it will matter.

Employers like to see employees who take initiative. Having a second job, that you created, shows great initiative. Don't sell yourself short. The freelance experience is oftentimes more important than your time at company x. Be sure to pitch it to your potential employer as such an asset.

Caveat: However, if your new employer uses probation for other purposes, there still may be a probationary period.

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It should count as experience, but as others have mentioned, some companies may go out of their way to disregard it. I suppose it depends on how much value they think you can bring to their company. Someone also mentioned that how you present yourself makes a big difference. Just having completed my first year of freelancing as my full-time gig, I have had people ask me a few times if this is my full-time job. Freelancing is actually more difficult than showing up to a office style job in many ways, as you have to take care of all the administration and sales yourself.

Find ways that you can present your freelancing experience as relevant to the job you are applying to, and the hiring manager should be able to discern your value to the company.

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If you were regularly paid and you paid taxes, then it counts since you have proof that you actually worked. No one is allowed to disregard this.

The other thing is that your employer CAN disregard this and if you do not like it, you can decline offer to work for him. If you think about this, then maybe a few months working as a beginner would not mean much if the company is good and promising.

Now, looking from the perspective of an employer and a person who employs freelancers - your experience should mean a lot to your employer if he is a smart man (if not, why would you work for such person). If you can prove your experience and if your experience can help you start from a higher level in some company, that the employer is a fool if he did not see that. I would kill for a person who can immediately start as a senior in our team :), instead of myself going thru all training procedures.

So maybe, you should ask yourself: "Should I actually work for a guy who does not respect my experience but is rather looking to cut his costs by underrating me?".

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Yes, It is considered. I worked as a permanent employee for an MNC for 3 years and then worked as freelancer for about a year. So now my experience is 4 years and it is considered by all companies whether big, small or startups. It totally depends on how you are presenting and how much you have learnt. As the expectation from a freelancer is more compared to a person who is just changing his/her job. It is you who have worked wholly and solely on the project.

  • While this will answer the question, could you potentially add some more content, such as why it is considered good experience? – Canadian Luke Dec 5 '13 at 19:14

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