Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Developing a career out of gigs and short-term work 1: securing work and assembling a career out of smaller pieces

Posted in career development, job search, job search and career development by Timothy Platt on June 14, 2014

I have been adding individual postings and larger more organized series to my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development, from when I first began posting to this blog at all (see the Guide: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 for its directory pages.) And if there is one organizing point that runs through all of this is that job seekers and employees at whatever level or position on whatever tables of organization, and career developers in general need to plan and to act strategically and systematically.

As a core element of that I have argued against simply taking a one-off or ad hoc approach whenever a more organized one is possible, and even when seeking out or working at an umbrella position – a temporary work opportunity taken only to maintain something of a flow of income while looking for a more desired work opportunity that would fit into and contribute towards a planned overall career path, and to provide temporary financial shelter.

I switch orientations here to consider circumstances where a realistic, more organized work and career path is more difficult to discern, let alone pursue. And in a fundamental sense I have been planning on writing this for quite a while too, and certainly for as long as I have been writing about the fundamental workplace and employability changes that we have now entered into.

I have primarily been posting on that in the supplemental postings sections to my Guide at the end of its now three directory pages. See for example, my most recent series on that: Should We Do Something Simply Because We Can?, which you can find at Part 3 of the Guide as supplemental postings 56-61. I suggest reviewing that and other relevant postings and series cited there, and as found throughout these supplemental postings.)

In keeping with the points of difference that I have just cited, distinguishing this series from others in the Guide, I begin by at least briefly outlining some of the identifying features of job seekers and current employees who might find value in a series like this.

• As a matter of general principle, the people who most need to know about the gig-based career option are those people who by demographic profile or individual work and career history, are most likely to face barriers to job search and career development along a more traditional path.
• This includes people who have in effect boxed themselves into a dead end by only developing a limited range of skills and experience, and of necessary training and certification for working in one work area that is on its way to obsolescence, automation or distant outsourcing.
• Regardless of skills and experience, and at times even because of them, this increasingly applies to workers who are at or past middle age. Older and more experienced employees may offer very genuine and significant value to an employer and with company loyalty definitely included. They often offer types and levels of value from their experience that their younger and less experienced peers do not – and they are often typecast as demanding more compensation because of that and of not being willing to remain on any job that does not offer them more, accordingly. And along with that, older workers are often simply assumed not to be up to date for rapidly changing and emerging skills sets. Yes, those points do show a level of mutual contradiction, and yes, hiring managers can pick one or the other, or even both at once to justify not even considering what they see as an older job candidate. Age discrimination is alive and healthy in the workplace, and certainly as I write this and throughout any foreseeable future.
• This can and does include people trying to break into the workplace at the beginning of their work lives and as they set out to begin a career path, and certainly as they find themselves competing for what would traditionally be more entry level positions with workplace experienced people who are simply looking to remain employed.
• And as a final at-risk category I add what can be called the wildcard vulnerable: people who can find themselves sidetracked out of ready employability by the emergence of the disruptively novel and unexpected, and in their industry of work experience, their hands-on skills and experience area, or even in the overall economy as a whole and certainly where that leads to layoffs and hiring retractions.

My point here is that an awareness and understanding of this employment and employability contingency is important for a great many people. And over the years that I have been writing to this blog, that number has steadily grown.

I am going to continue this discussion in a next series installment where I will look more deeply into what gig employment is. And I will compare and contrast it with in-house and consulting work as more standard work and career path options (for background material on consulting see, my series: Consulting Assignment Life Cycle at Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 2, postings 225 and following for its Parts 1-25.) And throughout this series I will be writing about how to bring system and strategy to a gig work career path, to help create wider ranges of opportunity from it. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3 and at the first directory page and second, continuation page to this Guide.

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