At the same time that I was writing a New York Times op-ed on the rise of the independent workforce, I had the opportunity to meet Nacie Carson, a twenty-something author and steadfast proponent of training people in her generation to be prepared for a world of temporary, contract work.
In her new book, The Finch Effect, Nacie warns professionals that instead of waiting for a recovery in the job market that is never going to come, we must take our careers into our own hands. Using a set of five strategies, which Nacie calls “the Finch Effect” (in honor of survival of the fittest Darwin’s avian inspirations), we can evolve productively in the years to come:
Adopt a Gig Mindset
Take a page from the freelancer’s book to quickly adapt to change and remain in control of your career at all times. Once you make the mental shift to taking ownership, your success no longer depends on what’s happening in the job market.
Identify Your Value
Isolate what makes you stand out from other professionals with respect to your skills, presentation, experience, and career mission. Create an adaptive professional brand (APB) to organize and communicate your value effectively.
Cultivate Your Skills
It’s no longer enough to just talk (or tweet) a big game about how different you are from other professionals. You need to be able to back up your claims with serious skills. Identify the qualifications and abilities that are central to your APB and put in place a plan for developing them to their highest potential.
Nurture Online Networks
Work on growing your APB through social media, optimizing your use of Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to craft and package your message. Your online profiles and website are the best places to project your value proposition and market yourself better to current and potential employers and customers.
Harness Your Entrepreneurial Energy
As the tide of the job market continues to shift away from the traditional full-time employment, you’ll need to rely on an entrepreneurial skill set (e.g. sales, client relations, accounting) to win jobs and establish new income streams. Practice either in your current job, as part of a side gig, or through volunteer work.
Need some help establishing your APB? In addition to Nacie’s book, check out this piece on the definition of personal brand, or this one on aligning your desired and perceived professional images.