Are Your Clients Ready for the Gig Economy?
By Giselle Mazurat.
In some professions, the gig economy is not a new idea. Musicians, actors, artists, and writers have been working at gigs for the longest time. According to the BMO Wealth Management July 2018 report, the gig economy is growing at a phenomenal rate with 2.18 million Canadians being categorized as temporary workers by Statistics Canada in September 2017. I’m one of those 2.18 million workers. I’m no statistician, but these numbers tell me the gig economy is not going away and preparing our clients to face this new world order is paramount.
Many of our clients are not even aware that the gig economy exists because they’ve been living in a bubble at a permanent job for most of their careers. They crossed their T’s, dotted their I’s, and moved up the corporate ladder with the hope of riding off into the sunset with a secure retirement. This system worked for decades for millions of workers; but what a lot of our clients don’t know is that this system is increasingly in decline. Job security is a thing of the past, and accepting this reality can be really difficult, especially for older workers. If they suddenly lose their job, they’re unprepared for the new economy that they’re forced to work in, making it a very scary transition.
I recently attended Gail Kastning’s excellent CPC webinar, Helping Clients Navigate the Agile Workforce. Gail presented a thorough, well-researched picture of the growing agile workforce and discussed ideas for supporting our clients who may be entering the gig economy for the first time.
So, how do we help our clients prepare for this change? How do we reduce their anxiety? Here are some suggestions:
- Share stories of successful gig workers. Such stories can be very effective in reassuring your client that it’s possible to thrive in the gig economy, especially if the successful gig workers are employed in your client’s field. Some clients may be very uncomfortable or angry about having to make such a dramatic change in their work life because they are used to the stability of a permanent job. Others may be scared of becoming impoverished by getting stuck in poorly paying, unstable jobs. These fears are unfounded for those who have the right skills, connections, and education. I know gig workers who make over $100 per hour; and, personally, while I’ve had my ups and downs, I’ve done pretty well overall. Change starts in the mind. You can help your clients change their mindset towards the new economy by encouraging them to believe that they can be just as successful as the gig workers in the stories you share.
- Help your clients develop a stellar, up-to-date résumé. Martin Yate, a world-class career coach and New York Times bestseller of 17 books, once said, “Your résumé is the most financially important document you will ever own. When it works, you work, and when it doesn’t work, you don’t.” This has never been truer than it is today. Gig workers change jobs all the time, so it’s important your client’s résumé is highly accomplishment-oriented to showcase their talents.
- Show your clients how to develop a compelling social media profile. You’d be surprised at how many people neglect this very important element of their job search strategy. They often don’t realize what a powerful tool social media can be when they’re seeking work. If all they’ve posted online are pictures of themselves at parties (not the most professional), and if information is outdated or missing, they’re at a huge disadvantage since recruiters and potential employers routinely check candidates’ social media profiles – especially LinkedIn – to learn more about them.
- Give your clients tips on setting up a home office. Some gig work is remote and your clients may have to work at home. They need a quiet, comfortable place to work in as they’ll likely spend at least 8 hours a day in that space. Stress the importance of ergonomics because gig workers don’t always have comprehensive medical coverage.
- Encourage your clients to build redundancy into their technology. In the IT world, redundancy means having backup technology available to take over if the main technology system breaks down. As a gig worker, I’ve built redundancy into my environment by having both a desktop computer and a laptop available. This allows me to avoid any business disruption if one of my computers goes south.
- Remind your clients to manage their money. Since gig work is sporadic, especially when you’re starting out, it’s important that clients save money while they are working so that they’re able to pay their bills in between gigs. Encourage them to avoid high debt because it is very stressful to try and service debt while you’re out of work.
- Advise your clients to keep their skills up-to-date. The gig world changes very quickly. The knowledge and skills that are relevant in a gig today may not be relevant tomorrow. When I finished a 4-year contract in 2003, I felt that the world had changed and I was out of practice with my job-search and interviewing skills. That was a scary feeling because there were many people looking for work at that time (the dot-com bubble had burst). Encourage your clients to keep their job-search and work-related skills up-to-date by attending webinars, going to conferences, or by taking short-term, online courses at Udemy or Coursera.
- Encourage your clients to network. While networking can be scary, for some professions, it’s a lifeline to getting work. Woody Allen once said, “80 percent of success is just showing up.” I landed my first contract in Winnipeg by “showing up” at a business event. So, encourage your clients to show up at professional association events, job fairs, seminars, and conferences. If they are nervous about in-person networking, suggest they attend online events. I have built many fruitful relationships with professionals I met online – even securing work contracts through these connections!
These are just some of the many ways you can prepare your clients for transition into the gig economy. I’m sure you have other tactics and strategies in your tool kit. If you do, please share them in the comments. Preparing and supporting our clients to face this new economy will make their transition much easier – less stressful and more profitable.
Giselle Mazurat is a Certified Résumé Strategist through Career Professionals of Canada. She specializes in helping technical and skilled trade professionals reach their career goals by creating industry-focused résumés and LinkedIn profiles. Giselle is also a gig worker who is never short of work writing technical documentation for Fortune 500 companies and government.