Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Job Diversity

Since soon after the financial crisis of 2008, I have seen many articles about the unfortunate college graduates and the newly unemployed of that time period.  It had been long observed that a large setback in the employment market is felt throughout a person’s career as their starting salaries (which would be depressed in such a time) and their absence from the workforce would bring ramifications for decades.  And I recently read that the severity of this latest downturn caused this setback to be even more harsh for those in and near the class of ‘08.

These articles stress the bad timing and luck of this situation.  This made me consider a new phenomenon that I believe to be a growing trend, the concept of people “diversifying their careers and work situations.”  I made up that phrase, so blame me if it is lame.  But what I have in mind is people who do not choose to wait for big, “stable” employers to choose them for long term and supposedly secure positions.

The appeal of full time employment with a single employer is believed to be the security of knowing the job will always be there.  But employers like contracting work on a project basis for a lot of reasons.  And I firmly agree with their positions.  Who knows what the world will need years and decades into the future?  So in addition to the economic incentives (no need to pay benefits) for employers to hire more on a project basis, doing so makes good common sense.

I also agree with something I have heard freelancers say.  Earning income from several sources does a much better job of providing “security” because the people who pay you are less likely to all stop doing business with you at one time.  Call it “job diversity.”  And if security is not the concern, who wouldn’t prefer to be in control of the work and the projects he chooses?

Of course, there are full time jobs at big companies still available to people.  And the particulars of pros and cons of the “diversified contractor” and the “long term” employee can be dissected and debated.  But I like the general trend.

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