The military community is struggling. Thousands of veterans and military spouses are unemployed or underemployed, some estimates place spousal unemployment as high as 40% and unemployment rates of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans remain consistently higher than that of their civilian peers[i][ii]. While the DOD and many companies are making concerted efforts to help, the problem remains.
That is where nonprofit groups like Hire the Homefront come in. HiretheHomefront.org serves as a marketplace that connects military spouses and veterans with clients seeking to hire freelance workers. The organization was formed largely centered around the challenges two of its founding board members faced while undergoing numerous PCS transfers in support of their husbands’ military careers. Jessica underwent 6 moves in 13 years and found it hard to balance a traditional career with moves and raising a family. Amber faced the challenge of relocating from state to state and transferring certifications between the PCS moves. They knew there must be a better way to maintain their professional careers while balancing the demands of family and relocations. Freelancing allows veterans and spouses like Jessica and Amber to do just that.
Meanwhile, Freelancing is Booming
Contrast those dismal facts above with these about of the growing freelance economy.
- Majority of freelancers who left a full-time job made more freelancing than they did with an employer within one year[iii]
- 65 percent of freelancers believe their life has improved over the last year[iv]
- Freelancers earned an estimated $1 trillion dollars in 2016 (yes that is a T!)
There couldn’t be a more distinct difference in the set of circumstances. Thankfully veterans and military spouses just happen to be in great positions to work as freelancers. Both are highly qualified (often overqualified for their current jobs) and both often have irregular schedules that are well suited for freelance remote work projects.
Hire the Homefront is free for military spouses and veterans and budgets over $100,000 a year in promoting them to clients in need of highly talented freelancers. The primary value proposition that the organization offers to clients is not only a litany of freelancers with a wide range of backgrounds and skills but also one composed of freelancers who are as American as apple pie. While this may not sound important at first, a central problem that employers find with remote freelancers is that they often do not understand the instructions in the project. Cultural barriers can create misunderstandings that may delay or even halt a project.
Even with all that talent and cultural knowledge many veterans and military spouses find it hard to break into the freelance market. Often this is due to a lack of knowledge of how the process works. Things such as how to bid on a project, how much to charge, or negotiating milestones are all unfamiliar skills to them. This is where Hire the Homefront works with its freelancers to develop those skills. The organization uses a team of volunteers across the country to help veterans and spouses bid, win, and execute freelance projects. One of the most prevalent problems encountered with military freelancers is that they don’t charge what they are worth.
Larger freelance marketplace sites like UpWork and Fiverr often end up being a race to the bottom with thousands of foreign-based freelancers bidding down the value of projects. That environment encourages veterans and military spouses to under bill for their services. Hire the Homefront provides a marketplace for employers to select only high-quality freelancers that are members of the military community. Clients are willing to pay for quality and that is exactly what they get with a freelance community compromised solely of members of the military community.