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Gig Economy


Enda Goodwin
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What is the gig economy?

Side hustle, freelance, contract work … there are lots of names for it. Gig work is usually short term in nature and allows flexibility, independence, and the possibility of working on a variety of different projects. 

The term “gig economy” became mainstream during the 2008-2009 financial crisis. As many workers found themselves out of a job, they were forced to be creative or find supplemental work that offered them an income and flexibility – to either work a fulltime job, multiple freelance jobs, go back to school, etc. Today, gig workers make up a significant percentage of the workforce and run the gamut of the career spectrum – from truck drivers to executive consultants to advertising executives, to artists – you name it, and there’s likely a freelance opportunity. Employers continue to turn to this model to keep their costs lower while maintaining a scalable workforce.

Is the gig economy right for you?

There are a number of benefits to being a member of the gig economy. You serve as your own boss, pick and choose your projects, and may not have to leave home to earn an income. You might be thinking: sign me up! Before you decide to go freelance, there is a lot to consider. As a freelancer, you’re creating your own company with purpose, vision, mission, and goals. It’s up to you – and only you – to get results. You’ll need to: 

Be disciplined. While not having a boss may be a plus, you’re the one on the hook to manage your time, meet your deadlines, and be productive. Establishing a routine and holding yourself accountable is key.  

Carve out some space. You may not have to commute to the office, but you still need someplace to get work done. Whether it’s an office with a door or an area of a room dedicated to your work, set up space where you can be productive and get into a work mindset. 

Manage your money. Freelance gigs offer inconsistent income and rarely come with benefits of a full-time position. You’ll have to plan for slow months, health insurance, supplemental insurance, and tax season. And don’t forget to account for vacations and sick time – in the freelance world, if you don’t work, you don’t get paid! 

Prepare for uncertainty. Being an independent contractor can be a roller coaster. At times you might find yourself so busy that you’re turning away work, and other times there may be lulls that have you wondering if you’ll ever get another project. You’ll have to be able to stomach the downtimes, and always be looking for the next gig. 

Keep your skills sharp. As with any profession, staying on top of industry trends, continuing to educate yourself and building your skills is paramount to differentiating yourself in the marketplace. 

Market yourself. Make it known what you do and what type of work you’re looking for. Join professional sites, update social media profiles, consider creating a personal website that includes an About Me page and samples of your work, if applicable. Consistently maintaining your online presence and adding project details as you complete them will show you’re actively working and staying relevant in the professional space. 

Network, network, network. Did someone say network? Building and maintaining a network is important in any career development scenario, but in the freelance world, who you know really matters. Not only will you be able to get leads on potential opportunities, but as you build relationships with various hiring managers and they have a good experience working with you, it’s likely you’ll be top-of-mind when the next opportunity comes up. And beyond that, they may send other hiring managers your way, helping you build your client base.  

It takes a lot to succeed as an independent contractor, and to many, the independence and flexibility are worth the tradeoff. To learn more about your options: 

The Gig Life: a great resource for helpful tips, inspiration, and community. 

How to Get a Remote Job This Weekend, by Ryan Robinson.  

40+ Companies Share Their Secrets to Remote Work Success by Sean Falconer  

Thriving in the Gig Economy by  Gianpiero Petriglieri, Susan J. Ashford, and Amy Wresniewski  

Freelance work – check out the resources on remote work.  

Contract work  Check out Adecco Connections resources and the Working with Search Firms webinar. 

 YOSS (“Your Own Boss”) is a trusted premier online freelance marketplace that connects highly-skilled tech talent with rewarding projects from top-tier employers in the US (from Fortune 50 companies to fast-growing startups. 

Becoming a Consultant: To explore action items related to this career path, change your roadmap to Entrepreneurship. 

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