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How to thrive in the coming tech gig economy

Paul Heltzel | Oct. 27, 2015
The rise of contract and contingent work is shaking up the traditional IT career path. Here’s how to navigate for success.

Gabe McDonald, senior vice president, Addison Group
“Professionals who provide a more specialized expertise ultimately will secure the highest-paying, more sought-after roles.” — Gabe McDonald, senior vice president, Addison Group

But he recognizes working with a partner has benefits: “If you are starting your own business, having a partner can spread the risk and costs involved.”

Work Market’s Chou also sees the benefits of creating your own team, and he says it can ease the transition from full-time work.

“To mitigate the risk of the unknown that comes with going solo, it may make more sense to work with a partner when you're first starting out. This will ensure you have work from day one and don't need to spend a majority of your time building out a client roster. This will also allow you to gauge the independent lifestyle and determine if it works for you. It's a sort of try-before-you-buy scenario, where you can really evaluate if being a freelance professional aligns with your salary expectations, schedule preferences, and so on. If you find it's everything you hoped for and yearn for the independence it provides, you're always able to go off and build your own business.”

Skills to pay the bills: Overhaul or tune up?

If you’re feeling uncertain about your skill set, you could start with a clean slate and become steeped in the latest advances in technology. But since deep skills in specific industries are in demand, it may be time to double down instead of starting anew.

“Theoretically, both professional reinvention and training tune-ups are great; however, most critical is ensuring you have a strong base,” says Addison Group’s McDonald. “If you are motivated, articulate, intelligent, and professional, either reinvention or training will improve your demand. That said, training is likely more valuable in the short term given most jobs are seeking skilled technical professionals, and reinvention implies you’re starting over.”

Obviously, there’s no one-size-fits-all plan for making yourself more marketable in the coming tech gig economy. Kelly’s Paulo suggests first taking a step back and doing a little self-analysis.

John Reed, senior executive director, Robert Half Technology
“The most valuable technology employees right now are those with the ability to balance technical skill and business acumen.” — John Reed, senior executive director, Robert Half Technology

“If you want to capitalize on some of the newer tech opportunities, such as mobile app development or cyber security certifications, you may need to reinvent yourself if you do not have that kind of experience,” he says. “If you want to stay in the same general area of specialty you are currently in, you could likely tune up with training and higher-level certifications.”


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