Preparing for the Gig Economy: Jobs in the Future
With the workforce becoming more mobile, the labour market is shifting towards a gig economy. Coined as the “Hollywood Model”, companies hire people only for the term of a project in the same way producers hire actors for a film. According to a BMO Wealth Management study, 2.18 million Canadians are doing some type of temporary work – a number that has grown significantly in the past 10 years.
For those who hope for a long-term career with one company, the gig economy could be a scary concept. There is a misconception that as a gig worker you’ll end up toiling away in poorly paid, repetitive, and boring jobs. This does not have to be your experience if you prepare properly so here are some lessons learned from my personal experience as a gig worker:
Start by preparing your mind. Be open to new opportunities. I’ve been a gig worker since the late 80s, and I really enjoy working for different companies and clients. I get to know a lot of people in my field and learn new things to keep my skills sharp. As an established gig worker, I’m not only paid well, but I also choose my clients, set my own hours, and create a better work life balance.
Think like an entrepreneur. As an independent gig worker, you’re basically a business. No one is going to knock on your door and ask you to work for them. You need to go out there and get the work yourself. Identify the types of companies and clients you want to serve, and position yourself as an expert in a niche market. Professionals who are seen as experts tend to command higher rates and get better projects.
Learn to get along with others. People skills are a must for a gig worker because no matter how big your city, industries are like small villages where you meet the same people often. You never know who knows who, and bad news can travel quickly if you get fired for being difficult to get along with.
Manage your money. You may experience fluctuations in your income, especially when you’re starting out. As you make money, try to put some aside and avoid high debt to keep financial stress at bay when you’re searching for your next gig. Keep track of your spending and calculate the tax you expect to pay so you don’t get a nasty surprise at tax time.
Stay up to date on labour trends. Read industry publications, join a professional association, and network at business events. Engage in forums and LinkedIn groups that are relevant for your industry.
Find a mentor. People generally like to help others. Find someone experienced in your industry who is willing to answer your questions and share their knowledge.
Get the right skills and training. Do an inventory of your skills and identify the training you need. Many colleges and universities offer continuing education courses; but if you don’t have a lot of money, you may find affordable courses at Udemy or Coursera.
The gig economy is not necessarily bad for your career. With the right preparation, you’ll be in the driver’s seat – on your way to an interesting, profitable career.
Giselle Mazurat received her designation as a Certified Resume Strategist from the Career Professionals of Canada. She also writes technical and business content for government and private companies.