Welcome to the Gig Economy...Are you ready for it?

Jeff Carter’s comments on CNBC back in 2013 are ringing truer today--the Gig Economy is here. Here's a refresh on an article I wrote back then about the importance of personal branding for individuals seeking employment—of any kind. Carter said…

Corporations aren’t hiring; they’re hiring consultants rather than hiring employees; it’s too expensive to hire people…We’re starting to transition to what’s called a Gig Economy with a lot of independent workers….This type of worker is exploding…which has really interesting side effects on the American economic system because no longer are corporations going to be the lion share of employment let’s say 10-15 years from now. It’s going to be independent workers doing things gig to gig to gig.

(Click here for the full interview.)

A strong personal brand is essential in a “gig economy.” In my Millennial Workshop Series, we dedicate one session to personal branding. It entails pre-work where the participants answer questions to clarify who they are and what they do better than anyone else. Below is a condensed version including steps to take and questions to answer to clarify and build your personal brand.

1. Be clear on your personal values.

  • What are one or two life lessons you gained from your family background that influences you even today? (It could be positive or negative.)
  • What does success or accomplishment mean to you?
  • What brings you joy?
  • What makes you angry, upset, or frustrated?
  • What motivates you?

2. Identify the type of work environment in which you would thrive and be most effective.

  • What do your values tell you about your preferred work-style or the environment in which you would do your best work? (For example, fast-paced, methodical, structured, unstructured, chaotic, competitive, collaborative, directive, non-directive, creative, etc.)
  • What type of work environment should you absolutely stay away from?
  • What industries or type of work do you know you’re interested in or even just think you might be? What are you curious about?
  • What type of people do you gravitate towards? 

3. Design your personal image.

  • What are your unique strengths? What do you do better than anyone else?
  • What do you want to be known for?
  • What type of image do you want to portray? (e.g., classic professional, intelligentsia, creative, edgy, reliable, agile, dynamic, energetic, conservative, traditional, athletic, academic, master in a given expertise, steadfast, confident, strong, etc.)

4. Put it in writing.

And I’m not just talking about a résumé here. Sure, in most cases you still need a good résumé that stands out from the stacks, but you also need to use social media to the max to make your personal brand visible and easily accessible for employers: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Medium, Instagram, a personal webpage, etc.

I spoke to a recruiter at a major entertainment company who advised they always look at candidates’ social media profiles and oftentimes make hiring decisions based on such. One gentleman was hired because on his Facebook profile, he had links to professional websites and photo albums related to his job interests. The recruiter said, “It makes him a human being. And you also see his volunteer work and track record of going above and beyond to further his career goals.”

She also shared that if you don't have a LinkedIn account, they automatically assume one of two things: either you don't want to be found or you don't know how to use a computer. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is robust and regularly updated.

5. Target your audience.

Who are potential companies or clients that match your values, image, and could benefit from your unique talents? Attend relevant networking events to meet people, do volunteer work, or connect through others via LinkedIn. One of my Millennial Workshop participants got an interview because she proactively and professionally sought a connection with the hiring exec through other LinkedIn connections. (And I’m pleased to say, she was also hired.)

And last, but not least, repeat.

Some of your personal values will most likely change over the years, so repeat this exercise every couple of years or so, and refresh your brand with the times and your experiences. The job market is getting more and more competitive—whether it’s a corporate job or a “gig.” Every job candidate has to stand out. What are you doing to stand out and make your unique professional talents known? What are you doing to get ready for a Gig Economy?

Originally published 2013