May 19, 2020Read More
Millions of young Americans are experiencing a “quarter-life crisis.” They understand that the economy and the nature of work have changed forever. Talent today want more bang for their buck. They want to leave a mark, make a contribution, have a purpose. In short, they’re seeking a calling more than a career. They crave meaning, autonomy, and exploration. Managing one’s vocation successfully is no different than managing a business. And that’s why the contingent workforce has the power to help modern talent evolve and achieve their aspirations. As we’ll see, even temporary gigs can forge the foundation of permanent accomplishments. In fact, it’s possible that the Great Recession has spawned a Great Progression in hiring, entrepreneurialism, and workforce development.
Today, 57 million Americans are independent workers, according to studies by the Freelancers Union. These professionals are contractors, sole business owners, gig workers, and contingent talent. In the next few years, over half the workforce (145 million Americans) will be free agents. But not all independent talent are freelancers, agency temps, or part-timers. Since 2016, there’s been a consistent rise in the rate of entrepreneurship. The Kauffman Index of Startup Activity estimates that 550,000 Americans launch their own business ventures each month.
Why are these shifts toward independence and non-traditional employment occurring? People are dissatisfied with wild income inequality, insecurity, and stifled potential in regular career arrangements. They’re eager to embrace their own opportunities in the cloud-enabled global market. And they long to find purpose and meaning in the work they perform.
Over the past five years, the idea of employment culture has blossomed into a critical hiring strategy. It’s a nuanced discussion with many corollaries. At the heart of it, though, pulses the concept of a higher purpose -- a calling.
Millennials, in particular, are members of an incredibly introspective generation. They’ve been raised through decades punctuated by strife, uncertainty, instability and a pretty severe drought in global financial markets. Although some people view Millennials as aimless and floundering, they’re quite the opposite. In the traditional spectrum of employment, they’ve added a new layer. According to Psychology Today, there are three stages in career progression.
Younger professionals are more obsessed with the question “What do I want to be when I grow up?” than their predecessors. They may advance through the early stages of the career model, yet their ultimate objective is to reach the third level -- to discover and embrace their calling. That drive has encouraged them to take more risks, try new roles and experiment with different jobs. It’s also what contingent workforce leaders can offer them.
In her 2016 article for Forbes, Virginia Franco presented several reasons why “temping may be your next savvy career move.” She acknowledged that not every contingent worker chooses contingent roles outside of circumstance. However, she articulately explained the positive outcomes that contract positions deliver. For young professionals who are starting to venture along the path toward their calling, I believe the benefits Virginia discussed are tremendously relevant.
“Temping is a perfect way to test the waters in a new role or industry when your experience in the niche is lacking, or when competition for a full-time role is steep,” wrote Franco. Contract roles allow talent to examine different industries, business cultures and jobs. If an individual has a strong interest in a particular company or position, contingent engagements may help them get their feet in the door and test their skills to see how applicable they are. If a person has embarked on a quest to find his or her calling, this is the best first step.
Contract work, with its variety, exposes talent to new people. Those individuals could become mentors, advisers or influential contacts for other positions more aligned with the worker’s calling.
As young professionals begin to assess their motivations and passions, they may take time off to ponder their next move. Once out of the workforce, however, reentry can become challenging as the intervening months pile up. Contingent work has historically been a great way to bridge employment gaps and get talent back into the mainstream.
This is essential to workers who are trying to find the best fit for their abilities and aspirations. Contingent roles provide a unique chance for talent to try new projects, expand their existing skill sets, embrace alternate methods and approaches to problem solving, and tap into the diverse intelligence of colleagues across various companies and environments. As young workers hone their skills, they become more attuned to jobs in which they’ll flourish -- and which will unveil their true calling.
The journey toward one’s calling is equal parts activity and philosophy. “An appealing aspect of temp work is that you get to choose who and when you want to work,” Franco explained. “This level of freedom or flexibility is not possible once you accept a permanent role.”
Beyond work-life balance, the liberty afforded by contract assignments allows talent to focus intensely on what they hope to achieve. In a regular position, all hours in the working day must be concentrated on fulfilling the duties and demands of that role. The elasticity in time that comes with contingent work facilitates introspection and exploration.
“The statistics are revealing when it comes to analyzing your chances of making the leap from temporary to permanent work,” Franco observed. “Over one-third of temporary workers were offered permanent work during a temporary assignment, and more than two-thirds of those accepted the full-time offers, according to the American Staffing Association.”
Many workers want to pursue companies that share the same lofty ideals and visions for improving their worlds. Unfortunately, in-demand companies bring scores of competing candidates. Entering the business through a contingent workforce program is considerably easier. It also allows talent to showcase their potential to these employers, with a higher probability of transitioning to regular work.
The burgeoning on-demand economy has dramatically changed the nature of work. Consumers and companies are decoupling. In many ways, talent are beginning to function as service providers for the employers they support, which in turn are becoming customers. As today’s professionals strive toward realizing their callings, they must also think of themselves as micro-business entities. Phil La Duke illustrated this in his article for Entrepreneur Magazine. Contingent work offers talent the experience to manage their careers as entrepreneurial endeavors.
In this new era of employment, change is constant and attaining the job that answers your calling is an adventure -- sometimes fraught, yet always brimming with discovery. Contingent work accommodates this well. And what better way to allay your concerns, test your mettle, and learn what makes you tick?