Navigating the Gig Economy

Stand Out from Other Applicants

The following is a guest post by Torin Ellis, a job search expert.  His bio follows.

The phrase ” this isn’t your parents job search ” has never been more true.  Up until the year 2005 or so, the typical reference to people working for a company where they were not full or part time employees was temporary workers.  Well,  now the millennial generation has gotten all fancy and crafted a new name.  They refer to them as “contingent workers.”  Sigh – same thing.

The point being,  not only has some of the vernacular changed in the job search, but so has the process of where you look and what resources are being used.  Savvy candidates today have an understanding of how the internal recruiting teams operate.  Call it a leg up, gaming the system, having the inside track. You know – the connect.

Since about 2012, there has been a rise in what is referred to as the gig or on demand economy.  This current economy is an environment in which contingent positions are exploding.  For sake of an explanation, companies take this position because it is more cost effective on the bottom line.  Those details are fit for another article another time.


The rise in companies using contingent, freelance or independent contractors for these short-term engagements can be found in nearly every industry ranging from education, hospitality and healthcare, to errands, side projects, and professional services. This gig or on demand economy is not a fad, but rather in full swing and will impact employee employer relationships for the near future.  In fact, a study by Intuit predicted that by 2020, 40 percent of American workers would be independent contractors.

The Gig or On Demand economy is being shaped by business models like that of AirBnb and Uber and professionals sourcing work using companies like Task Rabbit or the Upwork Community.  If you’re not familiar with those sites, take a moment to visit them.  You’ll be surprised by the vast number of projects posted on those platforms.  Even more, you do a bit of research and you’ll uncover that people around the world sustain themselves by using these online conduits to secure work.

Job Search In Today’s World

What does all this mean?  Well,  coupled with the rise of startups, shifts in innovation, and slower growth at legacy companies, it will require you to edit how you go about shaping your career.  Especially important for women and minorities that are more likely to experience unequal pay, lack of access to opportunity, and/or stagnation in employment.  Said another way, you will most likely do much more than use Career Builder, Indeed, and Monster in your next job search.  You will most certainly do things differently if you want to decrease frustration and shorten the time it takes to secure full employment.

You can’t afford to subscribe to just one formula for securing employment when so much about the process has been automated and the competition is now global.  I’ve seen far too many candidates present their experience in a cluttered and unorganized fashion.  Subscribing to the “do-it-yourself” version of pulling together their accomplishments without an effective guide as to  how it might look and how to avoid an empty conversation.

My new book, Rip The Resume is that guide and here are a few steps, excerpted from the September release, to help you monitor your hyphen and craft a document and conversation you can be confident in:

  • Consider smaller time blocks of activity. Whether making edits to the resume or actually searching for a position, I suggest 40/45 minute slots versus an hour. Focus  remains high and targeted.
  • Bursts of creative energy are vital to achieving results. Know when to stay in the zone and if that requires you to shut down social media feeds or turn off the wireless headphones. This calibration is important.
  • Minimize after hours computer/email/research time. Not all people applaud you for drafting that 4:38 am email response to a job. Know when to hold your hand for a better round.
  • Consider additional / alternative resources to Indeed and Monster. There are niche sites, apps, and chat bots on the horizon to assist in sourcing new opportunity

Adapt or Perish

I recall viewing a Social Media State of the union Keynote – NERVE 2014 by Gary Vaynerchuk.  Besides unapologetically dropping colorful language he shared that most of the audience would be in the same position the following year and beyond, because they would ignore the requirement of  remaining relevant.  They would not listen to the market.  Let that resonate.  Just look around and you’ll see example after example of people that ignored great advice and one year later are in the very same position as before.


You must be in tune with shifts in the marketplace. Embrace those that matter, and uncover how your progress will be impacted.  I’m reminded of the book Who Moved My Cheese.  Be prepared to shift if required and unwilling to make excuses or spend enormous amounts of time mired in a non-productive process.

Amid all of this connectedness enjoyed through the internet and social media, there is a deep importance of locking in on the signals that improve your family and work life, that elevate your joy, that feed your production meter, and play an important part in your having good health.  One of my favorite phrases: potential – interference = results.


Torin Ellis, 47, was born in Florida and raised in the Midwest, spending time in Ohio, Indiana, and Iowa. He joined the Air Force in 1987 and served as a communications analyst while stationed in Texas and the Philippines.

torin ellis job search

He left the service in 1990 and worked for Union Pacific Railroad and Marshall Fields before joining MCI in 1993. While at the telecommunications giant he sold long-distance, paging and toll-free services to small business customers. In his first year, he averaged more than 200% above his sales quota and was promoted to lead a sales team. In 1998, the entrepreneurial spirit called Ellis to go out on his own. He formed a recruiting company and he has been contracted by such firms as Verizon Wireless, Oracle, AOL and Datapoint (now Expedient) to find qualified employees.

Ellis has been contracted by  to be a part of their travelling speaking team, and he’s also been hired to speak at the Department of Labor’s “Youth Opportunity” programs all around the country. Through these engagements, Ellis has spoken to thousands of students and professionals.


Online jobsearch: Robert S. Donovan

Freelance Divya Vibha Sharma

Unemployed Evan Jackson



Ms. Career Girl

Ms. Career Girl was started in 2008 to help ambitious young professional women figure out who they are, what they want and how to get it.

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