Traditionally the job search golden egg has always been nabbing that full time job offer, which leads some job seekers to poo-poo the idea of contract-to-hire, freelance or temporary work. Why settle for what seemingly translates into no benefits, no bonuses and no promise of the coveted job security one can revel in as a full time employee?
Unless you slept through 2009 (tempting, I know…), you are somewhat aware of just how much the landscape of today’s workplace has changed. Stability is a myth, upward mobility by ‘putting in your time’ went the way of Tom Cruise’s sex appeal, and companies, while starting to put money back into hiring, are still wary on investing in the right people. It’s why you never heard back from that interview after the CEO himself said he’d be in touch tomorrow…and tomorrow was 6 weeks ago.
The fact is that hiring, for many industries including advertising & marketing, is gradually back on the rise in 2011, and the jobs are out there. But here’s the thing – they’re not nearly at the pre-recession level they once were, and even those open positions with shiney new salaries and titles awaiting you really can’t promise you any level of security. Particularly in this industry. Case in point – these guys.
Plenty of people are happily employed on a full-time basis across a number of industries, and many of them will stay that way. Others are choosing to avoid putting their eggs all in one basket by nixing the norm of dedicating oneself to a solitary occupation, and instead are diversifying their skill sets and creating a multitude of revenue streams that allow them flex all their different creative muscles. The result? Stability in the form of a professional fall-back safety net- the ‘side-career’.
When it comes to job searching, today’s smart candidates understand the dangers of the eggs-all-in-one-basket tactic, like nixing the importance of networking and only focusing on searching the job boards. One of the most crucial elements of a successful job search is strategically diversifying your efforts based on where you know the opportunities in your field are likely to be accessed. And that encompasses networking, searching the job boards, thought leadership & idea sharing, researching and following the companies that interest you – ‘a little of this, a little of that’.
The same goes for managing your career, and diversifying and maximizing your skills to create different revenue streams, so that you’re not solely reliant on and invested in one particular job. Because downsizing is a reality, layoffs happen, and companies close. This is the modern job market, and the reality is that if you lose your job, no one is going to take pity on you and hire you because you’re ‘desperate for work’. 6 months to a year-plus stints of unemployment are not uncommon. It’s about positioning yourself well to navigate those situations, while also upping your marketability and potential for uncovering new opportunities.
Now, it would not blow me away if your first thought was, “Why the hell would I want to create an additional job for myself when I’m already working 40+ hours a week?” This is not a one-size-fits all strategy designed to suit everyone. But perhaps it’s your opportunity to really take seriously that idea you’ve had for awhile around starting a side business or project that could potentially turn into an additional income stream. And for most people who end up going into business for themselves, the process begins this way. Maybe there’s an opportunity to work with a market segment that you don’t have the opportunity to engage with in your full time job. Or perhaps it’s about doing something to feel more challenged in ways that your 9-5 can’t, or doesn’t, fulfill.
Several years ago I was a recruiter with a side gig as a career coach. Now I’m a full time career coach with the occasional side gig as a recruiter. I also have a fine art business, similar to many people I know who are finding ways to bring together a range of talents, and bridge the gap between their income-producing day jobs and their creative ambitions. Many people are already doing something ‘on the side’, whether it’s intended to generate extra money, or simply because they love doing it. This is why I love love LOVE Etsy, the thriving creative marketplace of all things handmade, which even boasts a column dedicated to highlighting their members’ stories of how they turned their side passion into a lucrative revenue stream, and in some cases, a full time job.
Careers no longer have to be limited to one’s primary money-making occupation. We can diversify and cover a lot of different ground, cater to different audiences and provide a variety of services and products under the same persona. There are opportunities out there that we can expand into to not only maximize our earning potential and build a career safety net, but continue to build on new and existing skills that may open up additional doors for future opportunities. And think about the growth potential you’re likely to see in your professional network as well!
In today’s competitive career landscape, creativity and the ability to innovate and reinvent ourselves is one of the most advantageous attributes we can possess as professionals. It’s less about finding the opportunities, and more about creating them.