Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Developing a career out of gigs and short-term work 4: understanding and expanding workplace and new career-developing options 2

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

This is my fourth 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 my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, postings 368 and following for Parts 1-3.)

I focused in Part 3 on the mindset that we bring to our work and to any job searches that we enter into, and on how this can create special challenges for people who see themselves dead-ended into ongoing search for gig work opportunity. And I discussed that complex of issues with a goal of outlining tools and approaches for breaking out of a gig work rut. I then ended Part 3 by noting that:

• This 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.

At least starting a discussion of how to systematically and strategically move from gig work is the topic area for this installment. And that is all about understanding and following a systematic process, and in ways that make it work for you.

The basic overall process that I would present here is cyclical and iterative. Think of it as building a foundation for more stable employment opportunity where you use feedback and learning curve opportunities to build securely and for competitive strength, when seeking to stand out from a job searching crowd. So where I start in this process is at least somewhat arbitrary. I could for example begin with networking and finding a starting-point work opportunity, and even just time-limited work that is certain to disappear. Or I could begin with the issues of work attitude and of skills developed and used. Ultimately the biggest and most defining differences between gig work on the one hand, and in-house or consulting work on the other is in the skills and experience offered to a prospective employer. So I begin by assuming that you can find at least some gig work now for getting your foot in at least one door. And I will develop and discuss a process for moving beyond simply doing gig work, and the strategies for accomplishing that from there.

• Look at any gig work you do as a way to get your foot in a door. That means bringing in opportunity to earn here-and-now income, but from a career-oriented perspective that primarily means finding opportunity for developing contacts who you can network with and gain leads from, for next and preferably more stable and ongoing work opportunities. And for this part of this discussion that means seeking out opportunities to do the work that is most needed, and especially if that is work that an employer sees as important but that other job seekers might not be as interested in doing. Think scut work and certainly where that offers opportunity to learn on the side through performance of extra tasks and assignments volunteered for, picked up on and carried through upon.
• Look at gig work as an opportunity to show you are someone who a prospective employer can rely on for doing the job and for doing it thoroughly and well. And to repeat a core point here never lose opportunity to expand a job opportunity and do more and particularly where this means developing and using new skills, and even just seemingly minor ones. Even the most impressive and far-reaching skill sets are built from smaller pieces and they gain competitive value for you as you add to them, small piece and small demonstrated opportunity to use those skills pieces, by small piece and small opportunity picked up upon.
• And always overtly look at and discuss the work that you do from the perspective of the employer and the hiring manager, and focus on meeting their needs and according to their priorities. Present yourself as someone who seeks to help employers address their needs.
• Whether you seek in-house work with a single employer as an ultimate career path goal, or consulting work as a desired goal, treat the businesses and their managers who you do get work with, and those you interview with as if they were your business clients and sought-after clients. And approach every potential work opportunity with these employers in terms of how you would best meet their needs, as they see them.
• I stated above that I would focus here on the skills you develop and use, and I end this list of points back at that again. Yes, take the work opportunities that you get. But always look at them as opportunity to grow professionally and to build the skills sets and experience that you need to widen the range of work that you are competitively able to seek out and secure. Yes, I am repeating myself here, and simply note in that regard that the points I keep coming back to in this installment are fundamentally crucial to breaking out of gig work as an only option. And these are the points that most of your job search competition are not focusing on in their search to simply keep employed.

I am going to end this posting at that point and with some specific references, and will pick up on discussion of this employability transition process in a next series installment, where I will more fully discuss networking, references and referrals, and reputation building.

And now those reference citations: I often cite my series: Finding Your Best Practices Plan B When Your Job Search Isn’t Working, when discussing the issues of finding and securing a next job after lengthy unemployment or in the face of other significant challenges (for that, see directory page one of my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development, postings 56 and following for its Parts 1-17.) And I like to make note of that because I offer a progression of hands-on exercises in it, and if you carry them out in succession you carry out a complete systematic job search campaign from doing so. But for purposes of this posting, I would specifically recommend your reviewing some of my earlier Guide postings and particularly:

Building a Foundation,
Taking a Consultant’s Approach in the Job Search, and
Taking an Entrepreneur’s Approach to Building and Managing a Career.

I will be adding a succession of additional reading recommendations in postings to follow in this series. Perhaps the most important first step here is to begin thinking about work and careers in a more systematic and organized way and more strategically, and to think about finding work at a level and in ways that go beyond gig work per se. That, I add, is one of the core goals of this series where I seek to offer tools that would help a job seeker to do that.

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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