Jun 3, 2021

Are you already in the gig economy? If not-are you still breathing?

Current estimates show that freelance, or casual workers, make up 25% of the workforce globally. The gig economy is no longer limited to IT or the creative professions.

Consultancy, freelance work, short-term projects, and casual employment all form part of the picture of the gig economy. For some workers in part-time or precarious employment, a side-gig or freelance work adds to household income.

It’s not always a choice. To paraphrase Shakespeare: Some are born into the gig economy; some achieve the gig economy; and some have the gig economy thrust upon them! These days it is becoming rarer to find people who are in the one, permanent, position. Certainly, this is far from ideal. But while we are caught in this framework, we can make the best of it.
Many people love the flexibility and variety that gigging can offer. Others don’t have the financial luxury of picking and choosing projects. For most of us, we are somewhere in-between. We like our flexible work structure, but need more security.

Security in a in insecure world

The gig economy is inherently insecure. You are not always sure where your next job or project is coming from, and your income is irregular. But there are ways to build more security into your work structure.

Ideally, we want clients and employers knocking on our door, saving us the need to go out and hustle. But hustle we must, at least initially. Standard networking is helpful, of course, but can often take a long time and significant work, in order to pay benefits. A more immediate and effective way to put yourself out there is simply to apply for more jobs. Getting your CV in front of employers and recruiters raises your profile. And securing an interview gives you effectively a one-on-one networking opportunity.

Look around at advertised positions within your profession, but also browse in other professions or sectors. As you check out positions, roughly calculate what percentage of the criteria you could meet. This is not about seriously considering the position, but about seeing how portable your skills and experience are. Start applying for jobs on a regular basis, putting solid work into your CV and interview, if you secure one. Approach this as a gold-standard networking exercise. And remember too, that sometimes positions are advertised as “fishing expeditions”. You can do your own fishing at the same time!

It used to be that when an employer rejected you for a position, they would give the standard rider that “we will keep your details on file”. And oh how we laughed. But laugh no more. In the gig economy, employers are much more likely to genuinely call you up months later and ask if you’re still interested. Sometimes they will offer you freelance or consulting work. Above all, your brand is getting out there.

Warehousing skills and how to present your best self

Studies show that employers are looking more and more for transferable so-called “soft skills”. Some of the most in-demand include

  • teamwork
  • communication
  • critical thinking
  • creativity
  • leadership

As you peruse the positions vacant, start doing a stock-take of your portable skills. Notice the different ways that certain skill sets or qualifications are worded. Jargon abounds in the recruitment industry, so often we can be unaware that we actually know how to do that “thing” that has a kooky name. Start keeping a folder-physical, digital, or preferably both-in which you collate details of your skills and experience. This folder is your skills warehouse. Keep it logically organized and you can pull out a skill as soon as a client or employer asks for it. Think on a micro-level about some of the work you’ve done, both paid and voluntary, and break that down into those highly sought-after transferable skills.  You will probably be surprised at how much you have done, and how many skills you have.

Some examples could include

  • One of your hobbies is acting in community theatre productions: teamwork.
  • You are a member of a public speaking club: communication
  • In your last position you had to devise a way to reorganize a particular process: critical thinking
  • For your freelance work, you designed your own website and business card: creativity
  • For several years you have been coaching your daughter’s soccer team: leadership.

As you stock up your warehouse, you will also notice empty space on certain shelves. These are your skill gaps. You can start to fill these gaps with professional development activities. That doesn’t have to mean taking on a large, expensive qualification. Many free, or inexpensive short-courses are available. Regularly dipping into one of these will upskill you, and also provide material for your CV:  evidence not just of the skill itself, but of your drive and commitment. And remember that one of the much-needed soft skills is the ability to learn quickly. You can leverage your short-course learning easily on LinkedIn which has a section for Licences and Certifications where you can post these small but important achievements.

In the insecure world of the gig economy, your skills warehouse gives you agency and the ability to quickly pivot.  So dust off those shelves, fire up the forklift, and get stocking!

learn more…

Creative Thinking

Innovation is often seen as a process of finding solutions necessary to introduce a new thing. Yet the exercise of finding solutions can be self-determining, depending upon how creative effort is put together. Creativity starts with curiosity. Try this free Short Guides online demo course in Creative Thinking.


Have questions?

Contact Mark Keough
[email protected]