How to Lead in the Gig Economy

How to Lead in the Gig Economy

By now it’s well accepted that we’re seeing a change in jobs like never before. Triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, employment and workplace culture have shifted from full-time positions in typical office settings to work-from-home and piecemeal contracts. Following a massive global layoff in every industry, unemployment rates have skyrocketed, but so too has the demand for better working conditions and work/life balance.

For the first time since perhaps the creation of unions, workers are demanding better en masse, and this is driving the new wave of the gig economy. It’s no wonder we’re seeking better wages, workloads, and treatment following both the economic and emotional loss being experienced worldwide. Let’s explore how you can put your best self forward to become a freelancer or contractor and make the transition from the corporate office to the gig.

The New Resume

Now that you’re branching out on your own and putting your long-honed skills to use, the same old style of resume you used to apply for jobs before will no longer serve you. Your current resume is likely really dusty and in desperate need of resurrection. First, traditional resumes tend to focus on education and job descriptions, neither of which is particularly useful when you’re selling your services. Second, the competition is so fierce that you will need to capture the attention of clients within 5-7 seconds by proving your achievements, likely in lieu of an interview.

That’s right. Many gig positions do not interview before awarding the contract (phew!). Sites like Fivrr and Upwork focus on project portfolios and availability rather than the conventional hiring practices of setting educational minimums and contacting references. Hiring managers and clients are looking for quick solutions to their problems and are relying on your resume to show them you’re perfect for the job. So how can you update your resume to get an edge over every other candidate? First, you can review our 3-part series on Rules for Preparing an Effective Resume which focuses on 1. Personalising your resume for each position, 2. Providing succinct career histories, and 3. Etiquette for References. Second, identify your achievements clearly and back them up with metrics. Grab a coffee and let’s discuss how.

Traditionally, we relied on supervisors and managers to tell us our strengths, provide positive feedback, and establish our performance goals and achievements. It’s time to bin this old habit. (Actually, please recycle it! We should all do our part to help with global warming. :D) So how do you determine your strengths and achievements if they’re not being dictated to you? One word: Tracking. Whether you use a notebook, spreadsheet, or even an app to track your hours worked, tasks completed, and outcomes delivered, you need to start tracking your performance immediately. Remember, no one else is, nor are they obligated to help you get your next gig. The people on the other side of the contract are not watching over your shoulder or making notes about your performance. In many cases, they won’t even know what you’re doing and are relying on your knowledge to provide them with the product they need. Getting started with tracking your abilities and achievements can be overwhelming. Here are some common measurable to get you started:

  • How many projects/clients are you managing at any given time?
  • How often are you meeting your proposed deadline?
  • Do you have anyone reporting to you directly or indirectly? How many?
  • Are you being trusted with important information or an important project?
  • What actions have you completed that make the specific work you do invaluable to your employer?
  • Are you tracking the performance of your work after you have delivered it (hint: this can be disguised as good client relationship management which has the added benefit of you being able to triage any issues and go for those contract extensions!)

Answering these questions and providing raw data to demonstrate proof of your competency and value will get you well on your way to building a great resume.

A Shift in Perspective

Once you have the data in place and have it reflected in your resume, the next step is to develop the proper attitude and confidence to lead in your field. Freelancing is creating your own business, meaning you are the boss. The contracts or gigs you win are your clients. This can be difficult to adjust to, especially as clients will often have a strong presence in the review and acceptance of work, particularly if you’re in a field where specific technical knowledge isn’t required. While they are “employing” you to complete a job, you are invoicing them for providing your services.

You may have to remind yourself that you are the subject matter expert and you’re in charge of delivering a final project/product that you’re happy with. If your client is being difficult or unreasonable, you can end the arrangement and move on to another one that works better for you. As a freelancer, you have the power to accept or reject work as you see fit, a power we don’t have in traditional corporate settings – at least not if you want to keep your job! To be successful as a gig worker, you need to be confident in your ability to remain on track with any agreed-upon milestones or deadlines and deliver a product that you are proud of and can add to your portfolio.

Remember, your experience, expertise, and availability are all factors you set and sell to your clients. You establish your availability to work including when you can take calls or hold meetings, what reasonable deadlines will be to complete the project, and when the project is complete. It is wise to draft contracts/agreements to ensure you are protected throughout the project and that your expectations and boundaries are well established before any work begins. Your client should not have any issues agreeing to your professional terms to ensure a successful experience for everyone.

Putting It All Together

Now that you’ve taken stock of your new career goals, identified your achievements, it’s time to bring your resume into the 21st century and make it work for you to land that dream gig. Are you ready to take the leap into the gig economy? You don’t have to do it alone! Book a FREE consultation today from our helpful and professional team. It costs you nothing and the information we provide will be invaluable on your career journey.

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