The Gig Economy - Everything you need to know!

For older job seekers looking to start a career in New Zealand, adapting to changes in the employment scene is a must. Of particular interest is a rising trend in Australia and New Zealand that has led to an increase in the availability of freelance and contractual work: the so-called “gig economy.” If you want to learn more about the gig economy - what a gig means, what this type of working arrangement offers in terms of benefits, and what it takes to succeed in this recent employment trend - then read on.

Understanding the gig economy

The first thing to understand about the term “gig economy” is that it does not follow a formal or specific definition. A “gig” can be any type of work opportunity, whether a project or a one-shot task. This type of work isn’t exclusive to just freelancers, though, as some workers with full-time jobs actively search for gigs to generate a little extra income on the side. The gig economy has grown in popularity, partly as a response to the global financial crisis that has dealt businesses worldwide a heavy blow. Another factor in the increasing success of the gig economy is the emergence of various technologies and online platforms that have made it much easier for freelancers and workers looking for gigs to connect with employers and recruiters offering these work opportunities.

 

The typical profile of a gig worker

Due to the nature of the gig economy, there are rarely any age restrictions when it comes to finding gig workers. For employers offering gigs, what really matters is the worker’s capacity to get the job done accurately and on time. Thus, it is challenging, if not impossible, to classify gig workers under a single group or type. Gig workers may come from all industries and age groups - some, as mentioned earlier, may even be employed full-time.

 

Gig workers typically use websites, job seeking platforms, or mobile applications to get gigs. Once a gig is done, they move on to the next one - thus, the sustainability of a gig worker’s lifestyle depends entirely on how diligent the worker is when it comes to finding gigs. As there are no limitations on the number of gigs a gig worker can accommodate at any given time, many take on two or more gigs at once to maximise their earning capacity.

The types of jobs in the gig economy

While the gig economy does span a wide range of industries, there are some fields that just lend themselves well to this kind of working arrangement. Due to the nature of gigs as short-term work that can be completed within a limited period of time, the tasks in the gig economy revolve around (but are not limited to) the following industries.

  • The arts. These tasks may range from website design to customised products, and typically require the expertise of freelance graphic designers, illustrators, or musicians.

  • Web and software development. Workers with a background in coding and programming - whether via formal education or self-taught - can take advantage of gig opportunities under this category such as website creation and software debugging or testing.

  • Writing and communications. Technical writers, communication specialists, PR specialists, and other types of copywriters find no shortage of tasks under this category, as hiring freelancers to write copy for websites, publications, and media outlets has proven to be a cost-effective option for employers.

  • Transportation. All over the world, ride-sharing apps have risen in popularity, offering anyone with a vehicle and a license the ability to earn a living by serving as an on-call driver of sorts, or even as personal couriers or delivery service providers.

 

The benefits of working gigs

  • Complete control over the kind of jobs one can take. Workers who take gigs are allowed to choose which tasks to take on, and can complete said tasks at their convenience (as long as they finish them before the imposed deadlines, of course).

  • The freedom to choose when to work. Not only is the gig economy a way for workers to tailor their tasks around their schedules, but it is also a means for morning workers and night owls to take advantage of their tendency to work at peak efficiency during certain times of the day, allowing them to give their best when they work.

  • The privilege of earning from doing what one loves. Another great thing about the gig economy is that it caters to all kinds of professional needs and niches. This means that freelancers are given opportunities to earn by doing tasks related to their hobbies and passions (such as painting, songwriting, crafting, or writing) that an ordinary nine-to-five job typically wouldn’t offer.

  • The absence of career and field restrictions. In the gig economy, your formal education or employment background matters considerably less than your actual ability to complete the task. In other words, you don’t have to be a Fine Arts graduate to take on arts-related tasks - and you certainly don’t have to be below the retirement age in order to get gigs.

  • The opportunity to meet and work with a wide variety of people. Being a gig worker means having the option to work with different employers and job providers, allowing you to widen your network and further strengthen your career in the gig economy.

 

The disadvantages of working in the gig economy

  • There’s no guarantee of a steady income. Since you’re not the only gig worker available - and since gigs are typically a one-time, big-time deal - the only way you can ensure that you’ll have a steady income is by taking on a series of gigs in rapid, consistent succession. Otherwise, you’ll have a difficult time earning consistent pay - especially if other freelancers and gig workers are more active and diligent when it comes to finding work than you are.

  • Gigs don’t come with benefits. This is the same reason why some workers still prefer having full-time jobs, despite the freedom, flexibility, and other perks offered by gigs. As with most part-time jobs, gig employers aren’t legally obliged to provide health insurance, retirement fund contributions, and other benefits typically offered under a full-time working arrangement. Gig workers don’t get leaves, either. If you don’t complete any tasks, you won’t get paid, period.

  • BYOD (Bring Your Own Devices), all day, every day. The common types of gigs available to freelance workers necessitate having your own equipment. Writers are expected to have their own word processors, designers need to have creative editing software installed on their machines, and so on. And if you need to find a place where you can concentrate and work, your only options are to work at home or spend your own money in finding a suitable working space or makeshift office for yourself.

  • You can’t negotiate for a higher pay. Gigs are paid based on a fixed rate that is either provided by the employer or set by the freelancer. If the employer doesn’t like your rate, he or she can simply opt to find some other freelancer willing to do the job at the rate they’re willing to pay.

 

Tips for getting gigs

  • Assess your skills and figure out what kinds of services you’re confident you can provide under a gig working arrangement. While gigs that fall under your previous work experience will certainly be beneficial for you to take, don’t be afraid to explore your passions and find gigs that you’ll enjoy doing.

  • Take time to study the market by talking to freelancers and workers who take gigs. Learn from their experiences and stories, and you’ll know what to expect.

  • Sign up for a website or mobile app that connects you with employers and all the gig opportunities you can take. When you do, make sure that your profile shows employers exactly what you can do.

  • Consistently turn in work of the best quality, so that you’ll get positive reviews from clients (and make you a viable candidate for many other opportunities).

 

Ultimately, to succeed in the gig economy, you need to be flexible, hardworking, and excellent at managing your finances. Since your age isn’t a deciding factor impacting how well you’ll do in the gig economy, put your best foot forward and explore the job opportunities waiting for you!

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