For many of you making the move from a military career to the civilian sector, full-time employment isn't a viable option.
Perhaps you'll be attending school part time, or your family needs require you to have a more flexible work schedule, or perhaps your immediate goals don't align with full-time employment.
If that's the case, you're in luck! Studies show that we're in a "gig economy," and many veterans (and civilians) are benefiting from this less traditional workstyle.
A gig economy refers to a workforce situation comprised of more short-term, flexible or part-time positions, rather than working one, 40-plus-hour a week job. Gigs or gig jobs may be contracts, short term-employment or part-time positions. They can offer tremendous value to the worker, depending on the arrangement.
Examples of gig jobs include:
- Driving for a ride-share app, such as Uber or Lyft
- Freelance work (writers, designers, programmers, developers or consultants)
- Substitute teaching or tutoring
- Pet sitting apps, such as Wag or Rover
Some of the benefits of gig work include:
- Flexible work schedules. Apps like Uber and Wag permit approved workers to pick the days and times they want to work, and then they get paid for as much or as little as they work.
- Ability to supplement income. If your full-time job isn't providing enough income, or you want to earn extra money for retirement, vacation or to pay off debt, gig work can provide a supplemental income stream.
- Could allow you to test out a career or business without fully committing. If you wanted to one day operate your own business providing tutoring services, for instance, you could work through another company to learn the fundamentals, understand their marketing, and learn how they build their customer base. (Proceed carefully and check to see if you've signed a non-compete or non-disclosure agreement as part of your contract or employment.)
- Variety of work. I have a colleague who works part time as a marketing consultant, walks dogs during his lunch hour, and drives for Uber on weekends. He loves the variety of the work, being able to work with animals (his passion) and the social interaction of meeting new people as he drives. For him, this variety keeps his days interesting.
Working gig jobs for long periods of time can create challenges from a resume standpoint: Future employers might question why you worked short-term jobs; they may not see the continuity in your career growth or path and may question your ability to stick with one thing. For these reasons, consider long-term impact from long-term gig work and think about your narrative before you start -- how will you explain the work you've been doing, as it tells the story of your career progression?
For example, if you worked several gig jobs for a few years, while your family transitioned into your new (civilian) life, you might tell a prospective (full-time) employer that you made a conscious decision to focus on establishing your family's roots in the community before committing to a permanent job.
And, because you'd been deployed multiple times, the flexible work schedule permitted you to spend time with your young children, who are now well-integrated into their new life and home.
Then, your decision to work this way will make sense to an employer.
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