The promise of a single steady job for life is largely a relic of the past. Not many large companies provide steady employment and constant salary increases until retirement. The only way to gain job security is to generate it for yourself. Careers are not necessarily like soul mates. Having multiple careers is not cheating, but a chance to thrive in a world where job security is no longer a given.
Besides learning (from us) how to successfully and swiftly navigate today’s career transition, microcareers and multi-career paths have emerged as a great way to generate your own job security. Microcareers also called “slash careers,” are hybrid careers where a person takes on a mixed professional identity instead of being beholden to a single profession. This type of professional could be a lawyer by day and a rock star at night, a part-time factory worker and freelance writer, or a web developer and accountant. A microcareer means having simultaneous careers all at once. For instance, I am a business owner, résumé writer, blogger, digital marketer, adjunct professor, beach body coach, and rock star. While many of these professions tie into my larger goal of career management and helping people find jobs they love, not all of my microcareers fit this mold.
Working microcareers is a way to generate multiple streams of income, especially if you are not employed full-time. Robert Kiyosaki (Rich Dad Poor Dad) and T. Harv Eker (Secrets of the Millionaire Mind) are two businessmen and motivational speakers who believe that having multiple streams of income is the best way to secure your financial freedom.
In addition to generating multiple streams of income, microcareers also allow you to explore multiple passions. Starting your own business on the side or creating the startup you always dreamed about are very real possibilities. David Williams, the founder of CinemaCake, began his professional life in pharmaceutical sales, but had a passion for filmmaking. One day a co-worker asked him to film her wedding, he agreed and landed his first paying gig. Williams then searched for more clients as he continued part-time event filmmaking on the side. Later he won a local filmmaking contest and his win convinced him that filmmaking was his true calling. As he built his client base, Williams stayed in pharmaceutical sales until he went full-time with his business two years later.
Some professionals prefer a multi-career path over having microcareers. Multi-careers are multiple career transitions made within one’s working life. For example, a professional starts their career as a programmer, but later switches to career coaching. Some people find job security by changing careers every few years. This practice is known as career hopping.
Career hopping as a new normal:
Career hopping consists of a series of seemingly unrelated careers. It is not the same as job hopping, where an employee changes employers every few years. A career hop is a complete industry change. Career hopping means making multiple career transitions during one’s working life. For some, their career may no longer be a viable employment option. Others may discover that they no longer enjoy their career and are ready for a change. In my interview with NBC10’s Tracy Davidson, I discussed the possibility of changing careers by applying innate skills and talents to a different role and responsibilities. Many skills are transferable to a variety of situations. Changing careers is a matter of discovering what you like and dislike about your job, applying those skills, and asking your network for help in order to change careers. However, career hopping does come with a major caveat. It is more difficult to brand and market yourself for a single role when you have a multi-career history.
Career hopping is more of a normal lifestyle for most millennials, but not as natural for other generations. Until the Great Recession, it was normal to expect to have career in a single profession and with a single employer. In fact, it has been a complete paradigm shift for older generations who were taught by their parents that hard work and loyalty are often rewarded with stable employment, health benefits, and a pension that will take care of you in retirement. Unfortunately (or fortunately), most of us live in a different reality. For example, baby boomers were hit hard after being at a single job for years and then being forced to find new lines of work. The new reality might not be easy to embrace, but if you can adapt and learn how to successfully navigate and execute a career transition, you will be able to benefit greatly in terms of job satisfaction and increased income from this new work environment.
Work/life integration with microcareers:
People used to strive for work/life balance, but work/life integration is the new goal. With work/life balance, people attempt to leave their work at work, and their home activities at home as they seek to give both facets of their life equal weight. Work/life integration seeks to manage work alongside personal needs and both facets of life bleed together. Work and life are not at conflict with each other. You may have the freedom during the normal 9-5 hours to go to your child’s ballet practice, but you will be logging in from home after the kids go to bed. This means working late, not because you have to, but because you are passionate and energized about your work. Microcareers allow for this type of work/life integration because work does not often feel like work.
Making the leap to microcareers or multiple careers:
In both cases landing a job still depends highly on networking. You can expand your network and venture into multiple circles. Peter Diamandis, an engineer, physician and entrepreneur best known for founding the X Prize Foundation, firmly believes that having multiple projects equals multiple successes. In fact, it is the third law he created in the Creed of the Persistent and Passionate Mind. Think of microcareers as the ultimate in multiple projects.
Microcareers and career hopping are the new normal in today’s working environment. Having multiple careers is a way to achieve satisfaction, especially if you have a dynamic personality and multiple passions. You are not bound by a single position for your job security and you are free to explore your passions. If you are one of the 70% disengaged from your job, this could be the ticket to reinvigorating your career. Just imagine the creativity, freedom and variety that multiple careers can bring to your life.