The ‘Gig’ Economy and how to survive it.

You’re a part of the ‘Gig’ Economy whether you know it or not. Remember when that organisation needed researchers for 6 months, or the internship you did for 3 months,  what about that once-off article you submitted for that publication, or the car you helped your friend sale and got 2% of the proceeds, or the event you asked to help publicize on your twitter for free tickets and drinks. Guess what all these things have in common, their all part of the revolution that is the Gig Economy.

The term “gig economy” refers to a work environment that embraces short-term employment. It differs from traditional employment in that jobs are not permanent. Gigs vary in length, involvement and scope. Gig workers capitalize on the gig economy for supplemental income, flexibility and variety (source).

You might probably think of these as ‘Side-Hustles’ or impermanent things to do while you wait for your ‘real job’, but it seems like the Gig Economy is here to stay. It’s not enough anymore to get good grades in High School so that you can get into a good University so that you can get a good Job. The reasons for this are numerous ranging from high unemployment rates to organisations needing flexible-casual staff. Regardless of the reasons, the ‘gig’ economy is the new ‘9 -5’ and here’s how to survive it.

Be a master of your craft

What’s your gig and are you good enough to get paid for it? There are so many people offering a plethora of services, you have to be able to rise above the noise and show why you’re the absolute best at what you do. Good is the new mediocre, anything less than the best is just not acceptable. Ask yourself, what are the absolute best people in my field doing right now and compare that against your own skills, the gaps you just found, add those to your to do list.

Join the ‘Gig-Clique’

Whatever your gig is and whoever you would like to provide it too, there is a group of people who get the information first and more or less decide on who should get it. It could an institute or a whatsapp group. The snowballing method of inquiry is usually the best way to join the clique. Figure out who one person is and ask them to refer you to another who could possibly have use for your skills, and then the next till you’re a relatively established member of the clique. If you can’t get legitimate referrals, ‘friending’ or ‘following’ contacts of an established clique member is another way to go, granted it’s borderline stalking and likely to get you connected with a lot of unnecessary people but it is quite effective.

Get Entrepreneurial 

Imagine the hustle involved in getting one job, now multiply that by 25 (or whatever number you need to live on). You’ll need to think about your specific skill set as a business, it’s not going to be enough to be the best if you’re not shouting it from the rooftops and being a self-starter.

Say yes now, learn how to do it later

This is quite funny because a corner stone of the gig economy is flexibility of skills and labor. If you’re asked to perform a task that is within your realm of capabilities but not necessarily on your gig profile, say yes and the figure out the specifics after. I’m in no way recommending lying, if someone needs a pilot to fly a private plane, and you’re anything less than a qualified pilot don’t say yes. But if you’re a practicing Human Resource Practitioner, who see’s a minimum of 50 C.V’s a week and someone asks you to edit there CV you should probably say yes if you need the extra cash.

Get it in writing 

It’s not always possible, but try to get some kind of written agreement specifying the work you have agreed to do, how much you will be paid as well as when you will be paid. Unfortunately, their quite a number of unscrupulous people who are trying get something for nothing, so having something legally binding usually helps people honor their side of the bargain.

Account for all your costs

Unfortunately, gig works comes at a price. Because you’re not classified as an employee, you will not have medical insurance; transport, lunch or housing allowances; overtime; holiday pay; internet; talk-time or fuel allocations; and basically all the other benefits that come with a full time job. Thus, factor in all necessary expenses when doing your costings while still trying to remain competitive.

 

Whether you have full-time job and use gig work to supplement your lifestyle or it is your version of a 9-5, the gig economy is here for the foreseeable future. Make it work in your favor.