How you can survive the gig economy. By Silvia Palasca
Millennials are poorer than their parents; they are the first generation to have experienced debt before they’ve even had the possibility to generate a steady income, and are usually trapped in life-long financial commitments.
The 20-somethings of today have a “till death do us part” relationship with their credit card and mortgage, combined with a debt addiction, and there is little hope ever to see that zero balance or net savings balance.
What is the way out of the rat race?
The answer lies at the intersection of the answers to three simple questions: “What are you good at?”, “What do you enjoy doing?” and “Is someone willing to pay for that?” and becoming more open-minded about the definition of work. You no longer go to work; work comes to you in a browser, in an app, or through a text message.
Welcome to the gig economy, the world of freelancing, a place where your employer could be an Uber client for ten minutes or CEO on the other side of the world and your competition comes from 100 different countries.
To be part of this highly competitive workplace, you need to find your niche, offer unparalleled expertise and have an impressive portfolio to convince your future employer of your skills, usually in 200 words or less. 5,000,000 UK residents are already part of this, and 3% of Brits have replaced their regular job with gigs altogether.
How to make it in the global village
Focus on the skills you already have from college or your workplace, but try to enhance the marketing and highlight the actionable part of your knowledge.
Don’t just say you are an English major, mention your proofreading and creative writing skills, throw in a link to your blog, or don’t just say you work as an accountant, be specific on some financial benefit you brought to your employer.
Give examples of how you can bring value to your employer, even if the project is short-term. Always remain curious and open to learning new stuff.
Get in the game: Register on freelancing sites (upwork.com) if you aim to work online or go to the community centers where off-line gigs such as baby-sitting, dog-walking or tutoring are advertised. Start small, build your reputation one step at a time and gather recommendations from each satisfied customer, each will be a trampoline to the next gig.
Build a portfolio of your past work: Get your work online on a personal website or use dedicated platforms (YouTube, LinkedIn). When you want to impress a potential employer include links to your most relevant pieces and don’t forget to update your portfolio regularly.
Research the marketplace to get an idea of what your work is worth and don’t sell yourself cheap, remember that you are an expert.
Can it really make a difference?
Even if the side projects won’t help the average individual earn a fortune (most people don’t make it past £20,000 a year) the psychological implications are sometimes more important.
Workers from the gig economy grow to be more confident; they build their communication and negotiation skills and become more entrepreneurial than their nine to five counterparts.
And of course, if you can work in a gig alongside your normal job, who would turn down that extra income?