Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Developing a career out of gigs and short-term work 3: understanding and expanding workplace and new career-developing options 1

Posted in career development, job search, job search and career development by Timothy Platt on July 4, 2014

This is my third installment to a series on job search and career development, when you at least start out from a position where your only options seem to be ad hoc and more an ongoing effort to simply find here-and-now work (see Part 1: securing work and assembling a career out of smaller pieces and Part 2: gig work, in-house work, consulting work and putting them all into perspective .)

My goal for Part 2 of this series was to at least in broad brushstrokes, put ongoing gig work in perspective. And the perspective that I focused on was to compare it to the two major jobs and career path options that I have been focusing on up to here in my jobs and careers Guide: in-house work as an employee of some single business, and consulting work where you serially work for a succession of client businesses but in a very organized and career process-driven way (see its directory Page 1, Page 2 and Page 3.)

I stated at the end of Part 2 of this series that my goal here would be to discuss approaches for “breaking out of the gig work rut.” And I went on to note that this would include addressing the issues of securing the right types of gig work assignments and in the right way, so as to help you to move past them, building new skills and experience bases that can be used in looking for next work opportunities, and eventually through ongoing in-house employment. I added that I would also discuss transitioning to consulting work as a career path option for those who would prefer that to pursuing a more traditional in-house career path.

I will definitely discuss those issues here in this series, but begin by addressing an underlying challenge that many of us bring with us when looking for work, and that in effect defines the employment context for ongoing gig work: employment insecurity and our perceptions of being hemmed in by it. And I write this specifically for the long-term and the repeatedly, serially unemployed and under-employed, and for those who seem to bounce between those predicaments.

• As I have been discussing in this blog and in my jobs and careers Guide in it, we have entered societally into a transition phase where employment and employability are being fundamentally redefined, and where the types of skills and experience needed to secure steady and reliable work are changing (see the supplemental postings sections on my three Guide directory pages, and the postings and series listed there for background information on this topic area.)
• This noncyclical, structural change to the workplace and to competitive employment eligibility is enough to give anyone who seeks to remain employed at least a measure of perceived unemployment anxiety, as even seemingly stable and reliable job and career options can scale back for need or even disappear entirely as viable job categories. And seemingly any type of work at least seems to be so vulnerable by essentially any combination of outsourcing to countries and job markets that offer lower compensation for work done, automation and the taking of job types entirely out of human hands, or obsolescence and the complete disappearance of certain types of work as being needed at all. I have to add that many types of work are remaining and will continue to remain available as paths to ongoing employment and regardless of the ongoing change that we are seeing in the workplace and jobs market. But I am writing here about perception and fear, and how they shape the job search and work experience.
• Chronic gig work is in a fundamental sense fringe work – needed when immediately here-and-now needed, but just as quickly superfluous and no longer required. And employers tend to see their short term gig workers as fundamentally interchangeable, so even good work performance does not necessarily lead to anything like employment stability or job security. So unemployment anxiety is a constant and even defining feature of a gig-based work life and career path. And for its piecemeal nature, long-term ongoing gig work as a sole option probably cannot even meaningfully be considered a career path as “career path” per se implies organized and systematic.
• So this posting is about breaking out of a non-career and even an anti-career path and about moving towards greater work stability and reduced employment anxiety.
• And achieving that goal is all about the skills and experience that you have and how you present them and it is all about networking and getting to present what you can do to the right people and under circumstances where they would be receptive to listening to you. Collectively, this is all about systematic job search process and strategy. And with this foundation of perception and mindset in place, that is what I will at least begin discussing in my next series installment.

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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