Andrew Luck Walked Away From His Dream Career To Pursue A New Path. Can You?

iStockphoto.com |  Yobro10

iStockphoto.com | Yobro10

Life is unpredictable. We set out on our path, carving out a life and career that’s been many years in the planning and execution.

But what happens when it all goes off the rails?

Exhibit 1: Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck announced his retirement at the end of August. At the age of 29, the franchise QB with a pretty bright future ahead of him decided to walk away from a massive contract to move onto the next stage of his life – whatever that may be.

To put this into perspective – It’s not unusual for a high-performing quarterback to play into his late 30s or early 40s. Tom Brady is 42, and he’s still starting for the Patriots.

In all likelihood, Luck stepped down less than halfway into his career, and entering his prime earning years. He cited the wear and tear of the never-ending cycle of injury and rehabilitation.

I get it, Andrew Luck isn’t your average Joe – he’s probably sitting on a huge nest egg, and has a bachelor’s degree from Stanford to boot, so he’s not going to starve. And yet, don’t underestimate the life transformation this will cause. He has approximately more than 30 years of productive career time ahead of him, and is basically starting over.

Most of us spend our lives preparing for and pursuing a career path. Consider all the time we invest in making ourselves who we are, between choosing a career path, pursuing a specific college degree (or even a graduate degree), and internships, even before starting in our line of work. The years progress, we build upon that experience, and become specialists in our chosen discipline. Next thing you know, we’re essentially stuck because it’s what we know how to do, and we’re good at it.

People change careers all the time, and injury is just one cause. These can include burnout, promotion, demotion, layoff, job elimination, or relocation. And I’ve encountered countless people (self included) who at some point in their career said they were good at their jobs, but their jobs weren’t good for them.

Being pushed into a career change is scary. For most of us, this frequently involves developing new skills and competencies in order to even think about moving forward toward a new path. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average employee stays with their employer for 4.2 years. Be prepared for change, whether you’re ready for it or not.

If there’s any lesson to be taken from Andrew Luck’s surprise retirement, it’s best to be proactive in managing your career. That means performing an honest assessment of both your professional landscape, and where you stand in it. Do you enjoy doing what you do? If you do in fact enjoy what you’re doing, can you do it at another company or is your employer the only game in town, so to speak?

If it’s clear that your career is reaching the end of its shelf life, build your exit strategy before you find yourself without options. Decide on a direction with an understanding of what you’d like to do, and what you’d rather avoid.

Research what the marketplace wants and invest in your skills to match it. Create an individual development plan that documents your goals, and how you intend to get there. And most importantly, always be training – 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. And it may not require going back to school for another degree, as an easy-to acquire certification may do the trick.


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. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercareerstrategies.com.

Should I Participate in the "Gig Economy"?

iStockphoto.com |  zimmytws

iStockphoto.com | zimmytws

The use of the word “gig” to describe a short, finite job dates back a couple centuries. It’s nothing new, and covered a variety of professional engagements.

Fast forward to 2019. Today’s Gig Economy has valuation that obliterates the original concept of a gig being “any job, usually of short duration.” And this can incorporate virtually any discipline – musicians, graphic designers, project managers, you name it. And the ride sharing sector is a giant of the new Gig Economy, where millions of drivers worldwide contract with Uber and Lyft to take on additional work (BusinessofApps).

Far from being a reaction to economic or natural disasters (e.g. the Great Recession), the new Gig Economy is part of a larger paradigm shift from an ownership economy to a sharing economy, though where the needle will ultimately fall remains to be seen. That, combined with more traditional Gig workers (like being on-call with a catering company), has led to a substantial increase in the percentage of American workers who make money in the Gig Economy.

Here are some Pros and Cons of the new Gig Economy, and factors to consider when you determine whether or not it is right for you. For the most part, individuals who participate in the Gig Economy tend to fall into one of two categories - the first step is to determine which type you are:

Type #1: You want to make extra cash “on the side”, as either a supplement to your regular income, or to make ends meet if you are between full-time jobs.

Type #2: You want to make the Gig Economy your full-time, primary source of income, whether for a single company (e.g. Airbnb) or cobbling together many different Gig revenue streams (e.g. Uber, Lyft, and PostMates).

 While individual companies vary in their approach and culture, there are general Pros that can be attributed to Gig Economy work:

  • You decide your own terms. In the Gig Economy, you are an independent contractor, so you are your own boss. You decide your hours. You decide how much money you make. You can pop in and pop out at will.

  • Flexibility. One of the more interesting things about the new Gig Economy is the extent of its flexibility. You aren’t hired for a day, or a week, or a month. You are hired in perpetuity for as many hours/days/weeks you want. In addition, you are non-exclusive, so you can earn money elsewhere, even from competitors.

  • Try before you buy. Gigs offer you an easy way to try out a job before making a full commitment. You can give TaskRabbit a whirl on a Monday, drive for Uber on Tuesday, Lyft on Wednesday, make deliveries for PostMates on Thursday, and book a job through Fiverr on Friday, all just to see which one you like best.

  • It is a great way to earn extra money. You’re probably not going to corner the silver market and buy an island with your Gig earnings, but you can reinvest what you do earn in your professional (or personal) future. Whether extra money for school, travel, or your kid’s baseball gear, the opportunities are out there.

  • You can make your own work. Most jobs in the Gig Economy are accessible to everyone. While specifics vary, as long as you have the core competence to do the job, you should be able to work for a Gig Economy company.

  • Support your passion. The new Gig Economy isn’t just people who rent out their houses, Uber drivers, and Sharing App start-ups. Your extra money can come from your life long love of building furniture, or making jewelry, or whatever unique talent you are passionate about regardless of your daily work.

 

However, there are a few downsides that are important to consider.

  • Typically, Gig Economy work does not include benefits. With freedom comes responsibility, and, in this context, that responsibility is to pay all of your own operating and personal expenses. Benefits you may receive in a regular job, such as health, dental, vision, 401K, paid vacation, holidays, sick time, etc. are not typically offered in the Gig Economy. You are on your own. 

  • In Perpetuity, But Not Permanent. Gig Economy companies want you to work for them for as long as possible, but they also don’t care if you leave. Someone will pop in and make up the slack, so, even for Type #2 workers who want to Gig full-time, chances are you will not do one thing, the same way, for very long. Turnover is the nature of the business.

  • Low wages. The median income for the Top Nine New Gig Economy companies is $109/month – Airbnb has the highest, Getaround has the lowest. (Earnest.com). It makes sense that property owners are going to pull in more money than someone working part time for extra spending cash, but across the board working for a single Gig Economy company isn’t going to pay the bills.

  • Hidden costs. The devil is in the details. Just like any other business, your net is the gross minus taxes, minus operating expenses. Your operating expenses lower your net, so earnings from Gig Economy jobs may not be as robust as advertised. For example, you may earn $1000 driving for Lyft, but have $200 in gas expenses, and $100 in car maintenance expenses. Expenses may or may not be tax deductible. Read the fine print!

  • Many bosses. The flip side to being your own Gig Economy boss is that your customers take on that role – and there are many of them. You never know what type of person/boss you are going to get. You must have the emotional discipline to deal with many types of people, some challenging, some thankless.

  • Uncertainty. You are steering your own ship, but somebody else owns the water. Many of the major new Gig Economy companies are rapidly evolving, and as an independent contractor your professional development is not on the balance sheet. Your Gig job could change beyond recognition or vanish tomorrow.

  • Potential distraction from your full-time career. Any time you’re working on your Side Gig, you’re full engaged in that and not focused on “regular” career. That’s time you might otherwise spend submitting job applications or developing your career otherwise.


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.

Be Your Own Historian (For the Love of Your Resume)

One of the first and most sobering professional life lessons each of us learn is that all those amazing things you know you accomplished in your very-difficult-job-with-a-psychotic-supervisor are hearsay.

 When you leave a job, regardless of the reason or the end game, nobody writes up a glowing account of your crazy, ground-breaking, profit busting corporate exploits, and hands you a spiral bound copy of it on the way out with a congratulatory thumbs up. Instead, you are left to market yourself, and that glowing account you wish someone else had handed you is your resume.

 If you are wise, you’ve kept copies of any written performance reviews, or similar material, and you may have one or two commitments for written references, but past that a record of everything you did quite literally vanishes the moment you leave.

 Once you are the former employee of a company, getting basic information about work you did while you were there may be more difficult to obtain, and you may be left struggling to recount the details of your most prized achievements. However, your professional legacy can live on in the marketing brochure called your resume. However, you must be your own historian!

 I know, I know. Another thing you have to do. You’d rather move on to YouTube and watch a cat video. I get it, because we have to be our own historians as well.

Here’s an example where some good, properly recorded details can make the difference:

Generic: Wrote and published career insights blog.

Kick-Ass: In nine months, wrote twenty-six career insights articles for job seekers and, in line with mission statement to help others find work, published and promoted them across multiple online platforms, increasing overall web traffic by 5%, and establishing targeted brand visibility.

If you document your incredible work, and pay close attention to personal and company metrics, when the time comes to create a world-class resume, all the juicy details of your professional history will be there to mine and include in the most important marketing material you will ever generate.

It’s hard to have too many metrics. Dollar signs and percentages are known crowd pleasers. So are phrases like, “Increased annual revenue by…“ and “Cut operating expenses by”. If you have those types of details at your fingertips, you, or someone you hire, will have an easier time of turning your professional accomplishments into resume gold.

There is a hidden value too – confidence. When your mesmerizing personality is backed up by cold hard facts, you take that professional confidence into your job search, into the interview room, and ultimately into the boardroom.


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.