Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Developing a career out of gigs and short-term work 6: understanding and expanding workplace and new career-developing options 4

Posted in career development, job search, job search and career development by Timothy Platt on August 3, 2014

This is my sixth 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 1-5.)

I focused in Part 4 of this series on two points: developing the skills and experience that will help you to more effectively move beyond gig work as a sole employment option, and marketing yourself with the employers you do find work with, and to help you develop opportunities to develop new skills. I then turned to consider some of the core issues of effective business networking in Part 5, there focusing on informational interviews as a route to finding and connecting to the right people you need to meet to actually find and land specific new work opportunities.

• Always think of business social networking as a process of identifying and reaching out to the right people, and of then effectively networking with them – and not as a one step process where you simply meet people and just ask them for work.
• Effective business networking is always about entering into conversations, and leveraging them to meet more people so you can hold conversations with them too – two-way conversations.
• Networking conversations give you the opportunity to learn what you need to know, and both to find and meet people who are hiring, and for presenting yourself more effectively to them as the person they would want to hire.

I offered a link to my posting: Informational Interviews there, and repeat that here as the points I raise in it are crucially important when seeking to move into employment and into more stable and career-oriented employment, as opposed to simply finding some here-and-now work.

My goal for this posting is to delve into the issues of knowing what to look for in work assignments, and what to look out for too. This does not mean turning down work when you need immediate income, right now but it means knowing what you types of work you are getting and understanding what might or might not be possible from it. And if you are caught up in gig work that cannot offer any employment continuity or stability that ultimately has to mean looking for more than just a here and now paycheck. So what do you look for, when looking for more?

• Start with networking, and find out what it is like working for the people you would consider finding positions with. As a case in point, when people take internship positions and agree to work for free as far as direct monetary compensation is concerned, the agreement is usually that they will
• Gain meaningful work experience that they can cite on a resume,
• That they will have opportunity to gain new skills that they would use and develop in that work, and
• That they would gain contacts and networking leads to help them find and land jobs that pay monetarily.
• Most interns spend at least some part of their time at these positions doing scut work: menial low or no-skills labor and even in the best internship programs. But the tradeoff is that they should also gain value that they can apply toward further work searches and in gaining future work opportunity.
• That said, some employers are notorious for taking advantage of interns, only using them to fetch coffee, sort and staple papers and for doing other menial dead-end work and without offering opportunity to learn or use real skills and without offering any networking help for their free labor. And even some entire industries have developed reputations for offering “non-compensating”, scut work only internships.
• So network to find out what you would actually get to do if you take an internship, so you would be informed when you go for interviews for these positions. This is important, and in this regard I would recommend your reviewing my earlier posting: Getting Past Intern.
• When you are going to meet with a prospective paid gig work employer, find out about the hiring manager and their business. LinkedIn and other business social networking sites are invaluable for that and so is effective informational networking.
• And talk with hiring managers in terms of helping them meet their needs and priorities as they see them, and as someone who is looking to do more than just the minimum and with a business like theirs. This is important even if you see a position you are interviewing for as at best, a stop-gap type of opportunity.
• Even if you do not want longer term opportunities working with these employers, always at the very least cultivate a good professional relationship with them that could prompt them to help you with your professional, job search oriented networking when you search out next steps.
• Present yourself as an employee who takes the extra step in offering value and follow through accordingly whenever you do gain a work opportunity.
• And to pick up on a point that I made in anticipation of this installment in Part 5 regarding for-pay work, it does not matter and certainly not in this context whether you would be paid on an hourly basis or a piece work basis or whether this would be a short term full time job or a part time job. The goal is to get your foot in doors, as a search for leads and for longer-term more stable employment – and employment that can lead you towards a new career path.

As a final reference here I would recommend: Social Networking and Job Search 31 – temp and temp to perm, and I add: Social Networking and Job Search 24 – job search and your constraints box. The issues of yours constraints box and what you are willing to actively look for are very important here. At the very least you have to know and really understand what your assumptions and requirements are here.

I am going to continue this discussion in a next series installment where I will discuss references and recommendations. In anticipation of that, this means networking with the people who you would want to have offer you these tools, and in ways that would increase the likelihood that they will follow through and write them on your behalf. And at least as importantly, this means giving them the information that they need, if they are to offer you effective references and recommendations that meet your specific needs in your real ongoing job search and as you apply to specific work opportunities. 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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