3 Steps To Success In The Executive Gig Economy
This article was first published in The Huffington Post on June 9, 2016.
The decision to enter the executive gig economy is generally the result of two forces.
The first is necessity: as a result of downsizing, lag time between full-time positions or stagnating professional growth, contracts or interim projects become a way to fill the economic or experience gap.
The second is motivated by the opportunity to experience a better way of working. This includes control over when and how work happens. This in turn allows for more family or caregiver time, a rewrite on "retirement", and the chance to follow a passion project or fund a business, but with less economic risk.
Our experience creating Kahuso -- an online platform connecting accomplished executives with part-time, interim, advisory and board opportunities -- has shown us that regardless of why an individual enters the gig economy (or even how long they have been in it), there are three essential steps that will optimize the experience.
1. Identify Your Desired Outcomes:
The fluidity of the executive gig economy means it can be adapted as a channel to create any number of outcomes.
For instance, a contract or advisory role can round out an existing job or be a way of gaining experience in a new area or industry.
Among parents or caregivers, it can be a way to control when or how you work (remote or part-time) or the reverse -- the chance to come into an office once or twice a week, engage with a team and contribute a lifetime of experience to an organization or cause you believe in.
Whatever your individual motivations, it is important to identify and articulate them.
- Doing a values inventory. Get clear on what you are looking for from a gig role and why.
- Plan to regularly check in every few months or at the end of each project to make sure your values and current work arrangements or plans are aligned. If not -- well, a bonus of the gig economy is how nimbly work can be scaled up or down to meet your personal goals or needs at a point in time.
2. Strategically Position Your Career Story:
By mid-career, most of us have a dominant story that we tell about our experience and core skills -- both externally and to ourselves. While this is helpful in terms of the quick elevator pitch -- it can also be limiting when it comes to imagining how to transfer experiences to new opportunities.
At Kahuso, registration or onboarding to our platform takes individuals through a series of questions designed to better understand skills, work styles, cultural fit, and experience. This insight also helps to expand how your career story can be packaged and matched.
For this same reason, we also showcase members' careers in an info-graph format since the visual presentation can also help individuals expand how they see their stories and package their skills.
- Deliberately change how you present or write your CV to explore other ways of framing your professional story.
- Multi-industry input. Ask for feedback from friends outside of your dominant industry -- specifically, ask them to consider how your core skills could help their business or sector. This feedback can help expand how you frame, position, and package yourself.
3. Cultivate A Yes Mindset:
The executive gig economy is both growing rapidly and quickly evolving, and the best way to make the most of these emerging opportunities is to start with an open mind and willingness to try the uncharted.
This might mean a contract in a new sector, at a much smaller company or a work setup that is radically different than what you might have been previously used to: our advice is to embrace it all.
- Build A Support Network: Research shows that you are the sum of the five people with whom you spend the most time and their influence on your views and mindset is amplified during times of change -- so surround yourself with positive people who will cheer your choices.
- A Daily Practice of Positive Thinking: A stress point of the executive gig economy is that it generally requires regular change (new people, projects, work environments) and this can take a toll. A daily practice of mindfulness and calm re-commitment to being open to new opportunities can profoundly shift your experience, enjoyment of the process, and ultimately the results. Finally, more so than any other time in the history of the post-industrial career, how work happens can be tailored and adapted to reflect individual needs and goals.
Make the most of these opportunities by investing the time to create the foundations for your own version of a successful gig career.
Michael Carter & Caleb Rubin are the co-founders of Kahuso, an online platform they built to help accomplished executives find part-time, interim, advisory and board opportunities.