career

Can You Turn That Side Gig Into A Full-Time Career?

iStockphoto.com |  richcarey

iStockphoto.com | richcarey

The routine of most working professionals is to get up, and go to work. But what if your routine is, “Get up, go to work, come home and do a second job you are more passionate about than the job that pays the bills?” What if your routine is a balancing act between what you spend your time doing and what you truly love? Can you turn your “side gig” into a “full-time gig,” and if so, how?

It may be possible to transform your passion into a full-time job. It happens all the time. Here are some important steps to take to determine if such a move will work for you.

PHASE ONE: RESEARCH

Step 1 – Determine your skill level.

This must be an honest assessment. Ask yourself if you have something that the marketplace demands, and for which the market will compensate you enough to make a living.

Here is a perfect real-world example – photography. Our example, Bill, got hooked on underwater photography during his many deep-sea diving excursions around the world. His photos were stunning, looked amazing blown up and framed, and he generated some earnings by selling his work on the side. Could he do this full time?

The professional benchmark for natural photography, undersea or otherwise, is National Geographic. Bill compared his work to what was published in National Geographic, and determined it didn’t quite compare to what he saw. He made a deliberate and honest assessment of his skills vs. the marketplace, and decided that his photography passion should remain a side gig. He is now a PhD in psychology with a thriving private practice.

 

Step 2 – Benchmark the professionals who are successful at what you want to do.

Whatever it is you want to do, there are already many people doing it. Familiarize yourself with their educational and professional backgrounds, identify the professional organizations to which they belong, take note of the broad perspective of their career arcs, and analyze any barriers to entry that may exist.

LinkedIn is a great platform on which to conduct this kind of research. Let’s take a closer look at the “barriers to entry.” A quick LinkedIn search should give you plenty of professionals from whom you can easily deduce vital shared credentials that are common to success.

Take a look at, for example, consulting vs. graphic design. Consulting full-time may require much more applied experience than a full-time job in graphic design, but graphic design requires specific degrees and knowledge of industry standard design platforms. So, for the individual without a visual arts education but a deep business background, the graphics field may have more barriers to entry than consulting in the form of going back to school.

 

Step 3 – Conduct a cost/benefit analysis.

Take a look at your current finances. If you live paycheck-to-paycheck, your strategy to transition a side-gig into a full-time one is going to be more challenging than someone who has a year’s salary saved up as a cushion.

Research salaries related to your side gig vs. what your current position pays vs. your baseline life expenses (e.g. rent/mortgage, health care, car, insurance, etc.). Determine how a move will impact your financial status and stability. Create as full of a portrait of your financial landscape as possible, including potential changes to your tax liabilities.

 

Step 4 – Determine your Happiness Factor.

Now you must ask yourself the most important question of all (and YOU are the only person who knows the answer!): Will you be happy doing your side gig on a full-time basis? The work you do as a hobby may not be so rewarding when you are doing it day-in, day-out and your livelihood depends upon it.

And there are psychological risks associated with turning your passion into full-time work. You must now trade the freedom of approaching your side gig in whatever manner you choose to conform with the realities of the marketplace. Being self-employed or freelance carries demands that are very different than those you face working for a company. Now you must be three people: the CEO of your business, the head of sales marketing (the market can’t compensate you if it doesn’t know you are there), and the full-time employee who does the actual work.

 

PHASE TWO: MAKE THE MOVE

You’ve decided to make the move. But how? What is the best way to go about it? Your primary options are, 1) Baby Steps, or 2) Full-throttle.

 

Option 1 – Baby Steps

Taking baby steps means slowly building up your side gig and gradually transitioning it into a full-time operation when financially and professionally appropriate.

There are many advantages to this approach. It may minimize the financial impact of the move, it allows you more space to make rookie mistakes and adjust your methods as necessary, and gives you more pathways to grow and develop like apprenticeships, internships (apprenticeships for students), or even part-time/contract jobs.

Disadvantages to the Baby Steps approach include carving out the needed time to be a success while treating your endeavor like a legitimate full-time business, maintaining a level of professionalism that separates work from a hobby, and measuring your happiness factor with only one foot in the water.

 

Option 2 – Full Throttle

If you are the type of person who believes in bold moves, then you may decide to go full-throttle, which is pretty self-explanatory.

This approach is more dramatic, carries more risk, will have a greater and more immediate impact on your finances, and requires you to build a business from scratch. A business with one employee is still a business, and its success requires a whole different skill set than the skills you need to perform the actual work, which must already be of a professional quality and service level the market demands.

That said, dropping everything to fully commit to a new endeavor can be a challenging and exhilarating experience. You may make a few more mistakes, and you may hit some extra bumps along the way, but an immersive and aggressive learning-by-doing approach may accelerate your professional standing and turn your passion into a successful full-time career.


Philip Roufail contributed to this article.

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, career coaching services, and outplacement services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercareerstrategies.com.

Build Your Career Plan In 5 (Relatively) Simple Steps

iStockphoto.com |  CurvaBezier

iStockphoto.com | CurvaBezier

There is an old saying – “If you don’t know where you want to go, any bus can take you there.”  Sounds romantic, doesn’t it? In conjures up a whimsical journey. But as far as your career is concerned, a little more planning is recommended.

 Everyone should have a career plan. You don’t have to have it all figured out, but you should have a general sense of direction and career self-awareness. The advantages to having a career plan are:

  • A documented but flexible career plan, periodically calibrated and revised as necessary, will give you a better understanding of what your next steps will be and how/when to make them.

  • A career plan will help you develop transferable skills that should increase your future options.

  • If your decisions are guided by a career plan, you can develop strategies to better help you realize your objectives.

Here are five steps you can follow to help create and document an effective career plan:

Step 1 – Find a Mentor

One of the greatest things you can do for your career has an element of luck to it – find a mentor. A mentor is typically a senior-level co-worker or someone highly experienced in your field; a mentor’s perspective can be instrumental in helping you think about your long-term career plan. It’s important to have a sounding board other than your manager, or managers, who may not be as invested in your development or future. You can benefit from a mentor’s advice and help.

I mentioned the luck aspect, but there are options for those who would prefer to be proactive about a finding a mentor rather than leave it to chance. Independent mentor groups/services exist to help you do just that. Think of them as Big Brothers/Little Brothers for professionals. A quick Google search for “business mentors” brings up Score, MicroMentor, Business Mentors, and Small Business Development Centers as a few potential resources.

 

Step 2 – Build an Individual Development Plan (IDP)

An IDP is a tool you can use to identify development opportunities within your company, to help you develop transferable skills and hold yourself accountable.

While related to performance appraisals, an IDP is usually outside the scope of your job responsibilities and any specific deliverables or assignments. An IDP lays out your goals and tracks personal development, not the professional requirements of your job. However, like performance reviews, quarterly check-ins with your manager about your IDP progress are not only beneficial, but a necessity if you are going to monitor, review, and adjust your plan.

If this is not a formal part of how your place of employment operates, develop an IDP on your own.

 

Step 3 – Join Professional Organizations

Belonging to industry groups has obvious benefits and chances, are there is one that fits your needs. In professional organizations, you can expand your network, learn about new opportunities, be up to date on industry news, and maybe even meet your mentor. Some organizations, such as the Project Management Institute, are also training and certifying bodies that offer programs and certifications that will help further your career.

 

Step 4 – Always Be Training

If your company is serious about developing its employees, congratulations! Take advantage of the continuing education they offer (or mandate). Any formal training, certification, or program is an asset, and some of what you learn will be transferable skills you will use no matter where you go or what you do.

If your company does not offer such opportunities, or you are searching for work, you should seek training out. Get certified. Research what the marketplace wants and invest in your skills to match it. If every job you’re looking at requires Salesforce, and you’ve never touched it before, learn how to use it!

 

Step 5 –Document Your Plan

There are no rules and regulations to document your plan. The only instruction is to do it. Here are some tips to get you going: 

  • Start with a plan that focuses on your current position (or your last one if you are a job seeker).

  • Add to that until it’s a 2-Year Plan, then a 5-Year plan.

  • The strokes will get broader the further into the future you go, but they will be there, distant markers beyond the horizon line to direct you.

  • Monitor your progress, and make adjustments.

Philip Roufail contributed to this article.


Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, career coaching services, and outplacement services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercareerstrategies.com.

6 Simple Insider Job Hunting Tips

iStockphoto.com |  francescoch

iStockphoto.com | francescoch

Have you ever noticed that one of the most difficult jobs you will ever encounter is finding a job? Even a quick and successful job search requires diligence, patience, and perseverance. You need to tend to so many matters – such as your resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile, interview skills – and so on.

That said, the little things matter, too. These may be the difference between an employer selecting you for the job and going with another candidate. Here are a few insider tips to keep you rolling. 

  1. There is no single “best day” to apply, but Friday is far from the worst. It’s true that on Friday afternoons people look ahead to the weekend, but they are also unwinding from the work week, and the right resume that crosses the right desk at the right moment may get a glance. A relaxed recruiter will be happy to have an actionable resume to send the manager before the weekend. Conversely, on Mondays, recruiters are often busy tackling the avalanche of new work that accrued over the weekend.

  2. Have a LinkedIn profile picture. If possible, a professional headshot taken by a skilled photographer. Recruiters use LinkedIn to find talent, and your profile picture is one of first things that show up on a search. A LinkedIn profile page that does not have a photo looks like a house where nobody lives – i.e., the lights are off, the driveway is empty, and the yard is unkempt. Don’t make the recruiter wonder if you are home! While at it, make sure to use a profile picture that conveys a professional image. Yes, you look great hanging upside down holding a beer funnel on a Hawaiian beach, but you may want to keep that one in your private Instagram account. Dress for your photo like you would for a job interview. And smile like you will be the best co-worker in the history of co-workers. In a pinch, businesses that offer passport photo services may be able to provide you with a digital copy of your headshot that is appropriate for a LinkedIn profile.

  3.  Never stop training. Job skills change over the years and it is in your best interests to change with them. Companies once spent a great deal of time and effort developing their employees. These days, workers are expected to seek out and continue their education on their own time, and their own dime. Keep in mind that stagnant skills may turn a company off to your candidacy. If you’re in technology, learn Python or other emerging computer languages. Nothing against COBOL, but if that’s the only programming language you know, you may lose out to candidates with expertise in the latest, in-demand technologies. Continue to invest in your skills and future, and once you do, advertise your new mojo everywhere you can – LinkedIn, resume, cover letter, and so forth.

  4.  Understand how Automatic Tracking Systems work. The systemic use of Automatic Tracking Systems (ATSs) by recruiters and others who hire people for a living has impacted the people looking for jobs just as much as the those who administer them. These computers automatically rank resumes based upon on the particular requirements and wording of the open position, and recruiters usually start by reviewing the top-ranked resumes and stopping when they’ve accumulated enough candidates to share with a hiring manager. To maximize the chances your resume will get a high ranking, it must be revised on a job-by-job basis to better align with the specific requirements of the position. Yes, it is an essential and difficult extra layer of work. But when paired with old-school efforts to reach a hiring manager, it can help ensure you get a look. A lot.

  5.  Treat yourself well. It sounds so simple, but one of the very best things you can do to land that dream job is to treat yourself well. Do what you can to minimize your stress levels. Eat well. Walk outside. Put your phone on Airport mode for an hour a day. Allow yourself small indulgences. A happy candidate participating in a job interview has a greater chance of success than a sour candidate.

  6.  If you are feeling overwhelmed, remember the job seeker’s Golden Rule. If you don’t apply for the job, you will not get it!


Philip Roufail contributed to this article.

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, career coaching services, and outplacement services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercareerstrategies.com.