Lee Bob Black
Every day, those of us who don’t work in traditional employment arrangements face harsh challenges.
We’ve got to arrange our own health care and juggle multiple employers. We’ve got to wrap our heads around the unpredictable and inconvenient nature of being part of an “alternative workforce” that get 1099s instead of W2s. Whether we call ourselves consultants, flex workers, or temp workers, we sometimes struggle with the basics, such as maintaining a stable income and qualifying for financial services.
And when we’re looking for work, the difficulties multiply. I spoke with Jennifer Kushell, a global thought leader and CEO of Exploring Your Potential, about the problems faced by job seekers. “We all live in a bubble,” she said. “We have such painfully limited exposure to the world of work, what industries exist, and how we can fit into the world.”
So how do part-time workers and work-from-homers get over these seemingly insurmountable problems? “It’s important to recognize that the opportunities are so much more vast and exciting than any of us realize,” Jennifer said. “If you start your job search with that in mind, it can help unleash a greater sense of possibility.”
She’s right. When it feels like the 1099 economy is kicking you in the gut, pivoting into a positive and open mindset can make your intractable troubles seem solvable. However, if you’re considering working in a field that you’ve never worked in before, how exactly do you go about doing that? And what about applying for a job in a field where you have relatively little experience? Let’s take a look at some practical strategies for this.
With our current there’s-an-app-for-everything culture, dog owners can hire someone to look after their best friend with just a few taps on an app. Could you be that someone? If you’ve ever daydreamed about getting paid to play with dogs, what’s stopping you signing-up with a pet sitter app?
Do you ever fantasize about telling the designers of a website all of the mistakes they’ve made? Well, that’s actually a job. And there are now plenty of companies that enable people just like you to get some extra cash in their pocket by reviewing and improving websites. All you need is an internet connection and opinions on topics such as interfaces, intuitiveness, colors, layout, etc.
If you like bicycling or driving and would love to get paid to do it, you don’t have to work for one of those multinational package delivery companies. With the Uberisation of the logistics industry, you can now earn money delivering pretty much anything, anytime, anywhere.
As you can see by the above examples, broadening your job horizons can be rewarding—but also scary. According to Michelle Armer, director of HR operations at CareerBuilder, going beyond your comfort zone is essential to preparing for your next job. “Remember,” she once said, “sometimes the ride is bumpy, and you don’t get it perfect the first time, but that’s the process to go through to learn and grow.
If you’re not a percent match for a job, Mary Grace Gardner, career coach at The Young Professionista, believes that you still should consider applying for it. “If you meet the majority of the qualifications for a job you are interested in,” she once said, “and are confident you can quickly learn the remainder, apply for that job, but make sure your resume demonstrates your past success in learning new skills.”
In my chat with Jennifer Kushell, who is also the author of the New York Times bestseller Secrets of the Young and Successful, she mentioned the following gem regarding job-hunting:
“Nothing happens without us believing in ourselves and in what’s possible. The more we can do that, the more we can push boundaries.”
Jennifer also had a great idea about challenging the old ways we look at work: “There’s always a kernel of something that you’ve always wanted to do that can be applied to something different. Look at your skills, expertise, and passions—and try to apply them to radically different environments and organizations.”
One dilemma, according to Jennifer, is that very few people can articulate what they have to offer the job market. If you too struggle with this, she suggests that you find things you can do every day that’ll give you confidence and prove that you have capabilities and competencies.
You’re the only one who’s going to do this. You’ve got to be diligent about assigning yourself daily tasks. Jobs to apply for. Skills to hone. Websites to register with. That sort of thing. Before you know it, the jobs will start rolling in and you’ll be living and working on your own terms.