Sometimes somebody can say what you want to say better than you can. That is the case with today’s post. Today, I’d like to introduce friend and colleague Jake Negovan, his thoughts on free agency in the workplace, and how it can benefit both workers and employers. Jake is a columnist for the San Antonio Current and regular contributor to Red, Brown and Blue. I’m honored that he took the time to write a piece for this blog. For more articles by Jake, visit his blog here.

I am a major fan of professional basketball and spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about it. If you are not familiar with the NBA or the names LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Dirk Nowitzki, Joe Johnson, or Amare Stoudemire, you might not realize that 2010 is a big deal for something called “free-agency.” July 1st begins the NBA’s free-agency period, when players previously under contract with a team are no longer obligated to continue with that team and can field offers from others. Ideally, this means that the top-performing players are free to utilize market forces to put themselves on teams that will pay them well and collect championships in addition to providing geographical comforts the players desire.

Sounds like every job hunt, right?

Ok, maybe. But there’s an important difference, and it’s not the amount of money. It’s the terms. The NBA free-agents are going to choose an employer and they’re going to choose the duration of employment. You, too, can make the same choice as a free-agent employee (sometimes called a consultant or freelancer). This is a choice that few of us make when seeking work, usually because we don’t realize that it’s an option. Most employers don’t realize that it’s an option either. As the free-agent, though, you have the power to make it so.

When you take employment for a pre-specified duration, you’re doing a service to both parties. You establish yourself as a specialist, chosen because you have the expert knowledge and talent to accomplish a particular task. You’ll do the job you were hired for and then leverage that successful experience to land a more lucrative assignment, either with your current patron or another company. As you move from one assignment to the next, your professional profile increases and your network grows as you find yourself in new environments and circumstances. Employers also benefit from utilizing free-agent employees. Not only are they generally free from the overhead associated with benefits for a full-time permanent hire, they have less reason to fear attrition of focus and work-ethic from someone who knows exactly when their job ends. A free-lancer doesn’t have the luxury of coasting for a paycheck.

Educating your current or potential future employers on the benefits of free-agent employment is a powerful bargaining strategy that can net you more money, experience, opportunity, and freedom. The only thing they could lose is you.