career change

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.

How To Fill A Gap In Your Resume

iStockphoto.com |  JJPan

iStockphoto.com | JJPan

 

Whether it's due to corporate layoffs, family leave, or whatever reason, you may find yourself between jobs. It’s not unusual. But this does provide job seekers with a noticeable gap in employment.

In employers’ terms, that time is unaccounted for. If you send your resume to an employer without providing any context, the recruiter or hiring manager is left to his or her own imagination to deduce how you’re spending your working hours. For all they know, you're sitting on the couch eating bonbons and watching Gilligan's Island reruns.

The point here is not to advise you how to hide such gaps on your resume. Rather, how do you really use that time effectively so that you don't have a hole?

  • Devote a portion of every day to the job hunt. Block out time on your calendar when you will check job listings, apply to jobs, send out resumes, reach out to your LinkedIn network, attend professional events, and so forth. Routine will reinforce in your mind that searching for a job is a job in itself. Consider dressing in business attire to help establish the proper mindset.
     
  • Keep busy with temporary or part-time work. I used to work in recruitment, and I once left a  position without another job in hand (the position and I were a poor fit for each other). Through my network, I came across a part-time opportunity with a staffing firm. We were able to negotiate a flexible work schedule which allowed me to interview for full-time jobs on an as-needed basis. At the same time, I kept my skills sharp. And after the ego hit of being unemployed, I was able to rebuild my confidence and demonstrate to potential employers that my skills and I were valued and still in demand.
     
  • Volunteer. Do you have a favorite cause? Skills you can share? Consider volunteering with a charitable cause close to your heart. In the nonprofit world dollars are tight, and giving freely of your time a few hours a week can ease a substantial burden. In addition to generating some positive karma in your account, you can pick and choose type of work you wish to do and how contribute your talents. Are you an accountant and your church needs help installing QuickBooks? Perhaps the local food pantry need help boxing meals. Or maybe can you provide assistance in another area of  expertise?

Maybe the hole in your resume is in your past; try to think back of how you spent that time. If you used it working in an unrelated field or volunteering, account for that time on your resume as well.

Oh - in case you were wondering, full-time parenting counts as work. Take your credit where it's due.


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, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.

6 Important Questions To Ask Before Quitting Your Nightmare Job

That's the third laptop this week... | iStockphoto.com ( RomoloTavani)

That's the third laptop this week... | iStockphoto.com (RomoloTavani)

 

We spend more than a third of our lives at work. What do you do if that portion of your life feels like a living hell?

Here are some nightmare scenarios you may be encountering:

Toxic Work Environment. The company sold you a bill of goods on the interview. Morale is bad, your coworkers are worse, and expectations are shifting and unrealistic. A 40-hour workweek is a pipe dream compared to the 70+ hours you’re currently logging.

Your skills no longer meet the company’s needs. Sometimes a major internal shift occurs that makes you vulnerable. For example, maybe you’re an IT manager who’s been working on 20-year-old technology that’s being sunsetted at the end of the year, and there’s no plans or budget to train you up on the new platform. This kind of thing can also happen with soft skills, too – maybe the CEO is rolling out a new service model and it’s clear you’re having difficulty adapting.

Your boss has it in for you. Perhaps you and your manager have different philosophies. Maybe he wants to replace you with somebody he worked with at his last company. Or, maybe, he’s just evil. Either way, you have a bulls-eye on your back, and when things go south you will be blamed.

You’ve burned out. Sometimes it feels like you have nothing left to offer – no passion, no interest, no energy, and no motivation.

Or, maybe, your situation is a combination of all the above. In any event, you have a knot in your stomach just thinking about work, and you’re popping Rolaids like candy in order to battle back chronic acid reflux.

A thought crosses your mind: “This job is horrible, I should just quit. I can find another job.”

Acting on this is another matter. We depend on our job in order to eat and to put a roof over our head. Here are six important questions to ask yourself before deciding to quit your nightmare job.

  1. Is the situation temporary? Let’s say your manager is the primary source of your aggravation ­– is he filling in as the boss while the company has a vacancy, or is he settled into the role for the long term? If he’s an equity partner, then he’s clearly not going to move on anytime soon.
     
  2. Can you fix the situation? It’s not always possible for the boss to know everything that’s going on in the organization. If a process is broken, sometimes your manager has the power to remedy it, and by telling her she can address it. If the issue is skills related, perhaps you can take a class on your own time. And if you’re having a major personality clash with a coworker that’s causing your pain, sometimes a direct conversation can resolve it. But, sometimes not.
     
  3. Can you afford a break in employment? True, you’ll have time available to interview for jobs, but finding a new job takes time, and you won’t be collecting a paycheck while you’re on the hunt. Incidentally, if you quit you won’t qualify for unemployment pay.
     
  4. Will my employer pay me to leave? Many senior executives negotiate a severance package prior to accepting a job – if you’re lucky enough to fall into this category, you’ll have an idea of what your financial safety net will look like. But even if you’re not a member of the executive suite, there may still be the potential of a severance package. Some companies are image conscious, and may be willing to discuss some sort of severance in order to maintain their image and provide you with a soft landing – but don’t count on this, as it’s usually the exception, rather than the rule. Severance packages tend to be offered when it’s the company’s decision to part ways, not yours.
     
  5. Will my reputation take a hit? As a general rule, candidates who are currently employed tend to be more desirable, whereas candidates who are unemployed tend to generate questions and doubts by potential employers. Trust me, they’ll dig at this during the interview to see if they can uncover your flaws that contributed to your unemployment – fairly or unfairly. Also, you will damage your position during salary negotiations; instead of negotiating a package from a position of strength where the company needs to put together an attractive compensation package to entice you to leave your current opportunity, you’re in the less desirable position of negotiating with minimal leverage.
     
  6. Are my skills in demand? Take a serious look at your job market. If your skills are in high demand, employers may be more ready and willing to take a chance on you. If the market for your line of work is flooded with unemployed professionals, prepare for a slow, painful ride.

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, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.