‘A job for life’ or ‘A multi-career life’? The one you pick probably resonates with the generation that you were born in. But a multi-career life, seriously? We aren’t talking about a full-time job with a couple of side hustles here. Instead, we are looking at individuals juggling multiple (and different) jobs at the same time, which is becoming increasingly possible in this rapidly changing world of work.
In a report by McKinsey Global Institute, between 400 million and 800 million individuals in the world could be displaced by automation by 2030. Out of these displaced workers, seventy-five million to 375 million may need to switch occupational categories and upgrade their skills.
In fact, we are already seeing the onset of a rising global unemployment rate. As the number of full-time jobs diminish, many more people may even need to fulfill several part-time jobs as an alternative to being employed full-time.
It is all too easy to put the blame on automation. While it is true that automation is replacing human workers and fading out full-time jobs, it is also pushing companies and individuals to explore new technologies and upgrade skills to take on a digitized territory. And for many enterprising individuals, this means more than a career change. It presents an opportunity for them to equip themselves with digital skills so as to create multiple streams of income from different work or passion activities. And if one looks at a crisis through a different lens, then this is the time to kick start a portfolio career. Whether that means taking on two or more roles in different industries or combining a few jobs that speak to their passions, employees should take the initiative in crafting their own career paths by pursuing diversified work experiences.
We now live in a world where anyone can be a ‘boss’. It’s a world where small businesses can easily differentiate themselves against the multi-billion dollar titans with just an online presence or even, an Instagram handle. The world is suddenly filled with throngs of entrepreneurs selling anything from ethical fashion to curated home accessories; sustainable candles to artisan perfumes; design work to app developers. The tools to build an online business are so readily available that anyone who has the passion to learn them can easily set up shop.
Platforms like Instagram, Etsy, Facebook are creating entrepreneurs all the time and it’s not surprising that a full-time employee is also a ‘web designer’, a ‘photographer’ and a ‘food blogger’. And that is empowerment. Ordinary folks are investing in new tools and learning new skills to capitalise on their abilities to create value, all on their own terms. A multi-career does not discredit one's full-time employment. Instead, one role empowers the other. Why? Because learning in one career leads to discovering that you’re also great for other careers.
What about employers? Will they frown upon the hybrid employee who is ‘marketer/ food blogger/ yoga teacher/ photographer/ web designer’? Will they be able to shake away the negative connotation associated with the phrase “jack of all trades, master of none”? Will employers believe that they can actually reap the benefits of these multi-talented hybrid employees who are as productive as they are passionate?
While the career progression of the hybrid employee may not be traditionally linear, they offer companies with a unique spread of skills, experiences and expertise that will grow as the market changes. This new breed of workers are highly motivated and effectively use their diverse strengths as transferable skills across their spectrum of work. They are passionate about their multiple careers, and are usually a creative bunch who are often, great problem solvers.
Now, more than ever, employers need to look beyond the role that they are hiring for. Rather than seeking out candidates who fulfill the surface prerequisites for an opening, companies have to think differently about how to recruit, hire and retain a new breed of employees who seek different priorities and are eager to experiment diverse roles in their working lives.
As AI and machine learning take over mundane tasks, employers need to pay attention to skills of the future that technology has yet to replace. These include assessing the creativity, critical and strategic thinking, empathy, communication and problem-solving skills of the potential candidate. And that’s just the first part. How do companies retain these multi-career minded employees who are unafraid of taking career risks? Companies have to create a culture of creativity and lifelong learning. This may mean helping employees explore multiple career paths and supporting them in developing their hidden talents to build their confidence.
So the next time you ask someone what they do for a living and they reply with “I’m a marketer/ food blogger/ yoga teacher/ photographer/ web designer, and I also happen to be an environmental activist.”
Keep those raised brows to yourself.
This might just be the talent you are looking for.
There’s a better way to grow. And it’s not the traditional way.
It’s about rethinking traditional employment archetypes. Can we progress from an economy built on full time employment habitually enslaved by unemployment fears, to one where individuals have greater autonomy and are self motivated to do work that inspires them? And as a result, benefit the economy as a whole?
You can’t own full time employees. But you can build a winning team with talent management companies. As businesses demand more, external talents are emerging as the sure forerunners of an agile workforce. At Chance Upon, we partner businesses to get a head start over competition by creating collaborative work between companies and the right talents.
James Manyika, Susan Lund, Michael Chui, Jacques Bughin, Jonathan Woetzel, Parul Batra, Ryan Ko, Saurabh Sanghvi, Jobs lost, jobs gained: What the future of work will mean for jobs, skills and wages, McKinsey Global Institute, (28 Nov 2017)
Ashmi Pathela, A practical guide to having multiple careers, (8 June 2017)
M. Marginalia, Generation Multi-Career: One in five millennials have two or more jobs, (6 Jan 2017)
Sandra Henke, The multi-stage career journey - are employers ready?, Hays (2018)
Bernard Marr, 7 Job Skills Of The Future (That AIs And Robots Can't Do Better Than Humans), Forbes (8 Aug 2018)
Sherry Moss, How having multiple jobs impacts your identity, (2 May 2018)