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Navigating the gig economy – top tips for making the most out of the Temporary market

Kate Allen, Executive Chair and Marketing Director, Allen Associates

While the thought of Temporary employment may have been enough to make most people shudder a few decades ago, working a ‘gig’ in today’s economy is no longer synonymous with a lack of a “real job.”

Thanks to advances in digital technology and cultural shifts in society, independent workers now play a critical role in our national productivity. Rather than acting as a stop-gap between full-time employment, gigs and Temporary opportunities have become favourable for workers seeking a flexible schedule and independence in their professional career.

According to a recent study from The NatCan Panel, roughly 4.4% of the population in Great Britain have worked in the gig economy in the last 12 months - that’s an average of 2.8 million people. While the immediate image the gig economy conjures tends to be Uber drivers and Deliveroo riders, workers in this arena only make up a small percentage of the Temporary market in the UK. In fact, Temporary working opportunities exist throughout a vast number of industries as businesses source short-term workers to plug skills gaps and meet customer demands.

If you’ve been playing with the idea of joining the “agile” economy, the following tips will help steer you away from potential pitfalls towards success in a rapidly evolving business landscape.

Start self-promoting

While negative connotations such as the lack of security and stable income can still put many off the idea of the gig economy, research from EY revealed 66% of gig workers believe the benefits of contingent working outweigh the downsides always or most of the time. Of course, this isn’t to say it will be easy.

Going it alone can be tough, especially at the start. The freedom of determining your own income is exciting, but it will be completely down to you to make it happen. If you are to make the most out of the Temporary market, you must be willing to dive into the deep end and spread the word of your skills.

Engaging in and starting conversations on social media should be a given, but attending networking events will allow you to build a presence within a particular industry. By growing your network and connecting with key contacts online or face-to-face, you are essentially strengthening the safety net that you may need to fall back on later down the line. It’s all about forward planning.

Take advantage of down time

Predicting the volume of work over time can be challenging for a gig worker: everything can change at the drop of a hat, and many businesses will only rely upon contingent workers through the peaks and troughs in demand that come with seasonal trends.

Fortunately, this flexibility should allow you some time to grow and develop your skill-set - whether it’s taking an online course in the Adobe Creative Cloud or attending workshops to enhance your writing skills, your aim should be to make yourself as valuable as possible. Over time, businesses will become increasingly reliant on your services as you diversify and strengthen your offering as a Candidate.

But be warned - gig workers can only take advantage of a flexible schedule if they are masters of time management. Finding time to relax is equally as important as up-skilling: without rest, you won’t be working to the best of your ability. Unfortunately, in the gig economy, a drop in performance could cost you a contract.

Always keep an exit strategy in mind

Naturally, the choice to work “gigs” rather than full-time comes with a certain degree of risk. Any given source of contract work can dry up quickly, so working on a ‘Plan B’ despite the success of ‘Plan A’ will ensure you aren’t fumbling in the dark to make ends meet should a gig come to an abrupt and early end.

In fact, planning ahead in the Temporary market is not dissimilar to the process that full-time Employees should undertake: it simply means you create a safety net in case your path is suddenly. Luckily, if you’ve been building your skills, proactively marketing yourself and growing your network, a back-up plan shouldn’t be too hard to find. But remember, when Plan B becomes Plan A, you’ll still need a Plan C.

Over the last 20 years, we have grown as a business to become one of the leading independent Recruitment agencies in Oxfordshire, and in 2018 have opened our first London office, to service Clients in the capital.

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