The gig economy: Temporary trend or long term career plan?

gig economy
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For many of us the attraction of having a permanent job is obvious.

For a start, you know where you’re going each morning when you leave the house. I have colleagues who get lost when TfL change the direction of the escalators at their station. Having to launch City Mapper to find their way to a different desk every day is not appealing for them.

For my part, I do not want to have to spell my name out to a different barista each morning. Unlike others – I’m looking at you, Cheapside Starbucks – the good people at the coffee shop next to my office know that my name is not Lewheeze. That’s an investment we’ve both made and for me that’s a fine reason to stick to my permanent job.

But for others the gig economy has great appeal. For those people, the convenience of using their spare time to ferry take-aways around or their spare rooms to raise a few quid is obvious.

Is this fragmented job pattern something that can be meaningful in more “grown up” industries such as procurement or finance, or for senior management roles across the board?

Can you really expect to be taken seriously if your CV is longer than the Ts and Cs of an app and you quit quicker than David Cameron?

The rise of the gig economy in recent years is driven by both cultural and macro-economic factors.

On the one hand, some workers are no longer attracted to the prospect of a job for life – or even a job for years. They may recognise that their skills lend themselves to shorter-term positions. They may get bored in longer roles. Or they may simply want a different work/life balance.

At the same time, thanks to the economy, the supply of these short-term roles has also risen. Uncertainty has made committing to permanent hires more risky. In troubled times, companies still need and value real experience and skills and will go to great lengths to attract the right candidates. They just might not want to commit to recruiting on a permanent basis.

I should say that in many ways the gig economy is like “Classic Coca-Cola” – a rebrand rather than a seismic shift in approach. At Cedar, many of the senior procurement and finance professionals we deal with prefer contracts to permanent roles – and there have always been roles like this to fill. In the last year, though, we have seen a huge increase in demand for these locum contractors in very senior roles.

For candidates considering this kind of change, there are myriad benefits.

For one, it can offer the opportunity to gain experience in a new sector and manage new teams. It can also offer a toe in the water of the working world after a career break.

Unless you’re falling under IR35 regulation, this kind of temporary appointment can also be much more lucrative than permanent employment.

Another advantage is that it represents a great way to progress and learn from the different ways companies work, developing your reputation as a specialist within your field across a number of networks. In turn you can build an impressive portfolio of employers.

As a recruitment specialist, pitching a candidate who has built a reputation as the go-to person for a certain type of task – say a restructure or a merger – can help elevate them in the eyes of a potential hiring manager.

For employers, the appeal is finding someone to breathe new life into the organisation,who can bring independent decision-making and who isn’t just looking to make themselves comfortable.

If you have a specific business issue that needs addressing, like an expansion into new markets, then this talent pool can bring you a specialist set of skills without the burden of a long-term commitment or overheads.

In an uncertain political and economic environment, flexibility of approach is absolutely crucial. For both companies and individuals, the availability of temporary positions offers a lower-risk start to a working relationship that can be mutually beneficial. In some cases, roles solidify into permanent posts but that is often not the expectation at the outset.

At Cedar we strongly believe that the gig economy is not just for millennials; in a professional, ethical environment, flexible working has a huge amount to offer the UK job market. Just be prepared for the impact that contract work will have on your coffee shop experience.

About the author

Louise Gapp, Partner, Head of Procurement Practice, at Cedar

Louise GappLouise has over 12 years’ experience in the procurement and supply chain industry and holds an executive personal network spanning multiple categories and industries. Her specialisms include tailored relationship management, bespoke sourcing solutions and matching best of breed talent with like-minded clients.

Louise’s integrity has built long standing and trusted relationships with both clients and candidates whom she works closely with as a preferred delivery partner. Louise is passionate about the industry having gained significant achievements across multiple sectors and brings a wealth of knowledge to Cedar.

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