Many of us grew up with the idea that a career was for life: you go to university or college, learn a profession or occupation, get a job in a good company and with some effort, time and luck, you’ll get promoted up the career ladder until is time to retire.
Until only a decade ago, that was the usual pattern, you would change jobs once or twice, anything more than that may even sound suspicious unless you were moving to another country. Careers and jobs were very stable.
That is no longer the case: while a majority of traditional jobs and careers continue to follow that pattern, the Gig economy is increasingly changing the way we see careers, jobs and even formal studies.
In this series, prepared for my upcoming workshop at the 2017 B.C. Career Development Association (BCCDA) Conference, I will be sharing what I have researched and learned from this trend, how it affects job seekers and how to make the best out of its uncertain promises.
But first the first: what is the Gig Economy?
The Gig Economy is made up of freelance, part-time, contract and temporary jobs. While these have always existed, what was once a six percent of the total workforce is now 43 percent and growing.
For employers the Gig Economy allows them to save money, become more efficient and ensure highly skilled workers working when they are most needed. They save on vacation, insurance and other benefits, and in some cases, they also save on rent and supplies. The Gig Economy allows them to get workers when they are needed and not checking social media or hanging around the coffee break spot with no project in hand (but still being paid).
For workers, the Gig Economy can be really challenging: always in the look for a new “gig” or contract/project, unsteady income, no benefits, no pension and the chance to be taken advantage of.
There is, however, a bright side on it: if planned, the Gig Economy can lead to real life-work balance, enabling workers to take time off between gigs, re-assess their concept of success and quality of life, use diverse skill-sets instead of just one, connect with interesting people and projects and participate in a more sustainable and strong local economy that in the long term creates more job opportunities and quality of life for all in the community they live.
According to author Diane Mulcahy (The Gig Economy, Amacom, NYC 2016), there are 10 rules to succeed in the Gig Economy: 1) Define your success; 2) Diversify; 3) Create your own security; 4) Connect without networking; 5) face fear by reducing risk; 6) take time off between gigs; 7) be mindful about time; 8) be financially flexible; 9) think access, not ownership and 10) save for the traditional retirement…but don’t plan on having one.
In the upcoming months, I will be writing a series of articles and blog posts about these “rules” and how they apply to real people, especially to newcomers, youth and seniors and what are your options to navigate this roller-coaster and not perish.
I will also be open to questions from readers, please contact the editor for more details.