A decade ago, holding a steady job for ten-twenty years was the culprit of a successful career. You joined the organization as a junior hire and steadily climbed up the corporate ladder until the golden days of retirement arrived.
In today’s economy, such scenarios have become a rare exception, rather than the norm. Most people will hold 5 different careers in their lifetime. In fact, job hopping is something that you are expected to do a lot within the first ten years after leaving college.
I spoke with Patrick Algrim on the subject, the founder of career site Algrim.co. Here’s what he had to say, “Based on our 2019 HR survey, we found some keen insights on the job market. A majority of millennial employees see themselves changing jobs within the next one to three years. Which means more volatility in the workforce. Additionally, we found that most managers hire those candidates they found through their network more so than online job applications.”
Furthermore, freelancing and gig work have outgrown the rank of a temporary employment option and both became valid career paths for many, ballooning that ‘number of jobs per lifetime’ even further.
Despite what you may think, these trends can be a good thing for your career prospects. A new research from Tech4America non-profit found out that having 5 years of part-time work experience under your belt can boost your earnings by 54%.
How More Diverse Job Experience Contributes to Better Employment Prospects
The same research indicates that workers holding a skilled side-hustle (one that pays above-average wage) managed to retain 97% of their income after completely changing their occupation. Those within the top 75th percentile even started earning 168% of their previous wage after doing so.
Another study of displaced workers also showed that people with a graduate degree who were working multiple jobs at a time ended up earning 62% more compared to their single-job peers.
Lastly, here’s another insight from Bankrate: 43% of the side-hustlers who participated in the survey already had a household income of $80,000 or above; 47% had a postgraduate degree. One can extrapolate from this data that most people are moonlighting on the side, not just for extra cash, but to diversify their skill set too.
Workforce Experience is the Best Training You Can Get
Traditional university education is important, albeit it cannot always keep up with the pace of change happening in industries such as tech, marketing or even medicine. Getting a degree can be costly and require a significant time commitment.
The gig economy, on the other hand, can be a great avenue for receiving paid training. You learn how to perform a task, network with peers and potential employers in your industry and you level up your skills one project at a time. As I wrote before, freelancing in college may be the best decision for a soon-to-be graduate. For older folks, freelancing can also be a great opportunity to update a rusty skillset or re-skill altogether. It’s not uncommon these days to see a former carpenter, turning UX designer or starting an e-commerce shop.
Freelancing Helps You Find and Develop Your ‘Specialty’
Working at a single job for too long often confides you to having just two career trajectories:
being a highly-niche specialist that knows how things are done in department X, company Y, city Z;
or becoming a generalist knowing how things operate on a general industry scale, but having limited understanding when it comes to specific job functions.
As a result, your career development scope gets murky. You either don’t see the good enough job opportunities to apply your niche skills. Or you are not sure which of the general skill sets you should improve to advance your career prospects.
Let’s take digital marketing to further illustrate this conundrum. This domain has plenty of sub-niches, ranging from SEO, SEM, and PPC, to content marketing, email marketing, CRO, social media marketing, UX or conversion copywriting, growth hacking and plenty of other roles. Furthermore, you can choose to specialize in a certain niche and, for instance, provide marketing services to HVAC companies or specialize in content marketing for FinTech companies.
How do you know which ‘specialty’ suits you best? Well, you rarely can make a solid choice without trying at least several roles and narrow down to the niche that’s both profitable and interesting for you personally.
Multiple Jobs Also Equals Higher Job Security
Low job security is one of the most persistent myths surrounding the gig economy. However, the consequences of losing a single job are much more devastating than ‘getting fired’ from a gig. In fact, a JPMorgan study found that people who work part-time via online freelancing marketplaces have “smoother consumption volatility”. In other words, they can always clock in extra hours or take on an additional project to buffer unexpected expenses.
And as other data indicated, even in the case of unexpected termination, people with a diverse range of skills acquired from part-time work are far more likely to find a better job altogether.
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