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  • This Isn’t Your Grandfather’s Work Schedule

    Since I can remember, we’ve been preconditioned to think that being legitimate as a working professional is to work one job at one company from 9am to 5pm, 40 hours a week.

    Well, the time has effectively come to challenge what we know on that topic for our own professional self-worth, if not out of necessity. It’s time to visit the concept of diversifying ourselves to contribute to many workplace settings, not just one. And here’s the kicker – rather than being a sacrifice, it might wind up being the best thing you ever did for yourself.

    Having one job is perfectly fine and respectable, of course. But let’s face reality: For millions on top of millions, that just isn’t an option. There aren’t enough jobs to go around – not because people don’t have the skills but more because of poor company performance or exporting jobs elsewhere. Those jobs may never return. Why tie the whole of your happiness up in obtaining one full-time job if it’s not there? These are factors that have nothing to do with you. So why blame yourself for it?

    If you’re facing this possibility, I want you to change your line of thinking right now. Stop thinking about your goal as being one job. Stop thinking about success in terms of working at one company. Stop thinking about earning one salary. Stop thinking that you need to be planted in one location from morning to night.

    Instead, let’s take another view. Imagine yourself re-packaging your skills in a non-salary format, such as an hourly rate or day rate. Imagine many companies benefiting from your skills, not just one. The win for potential employers is that if it’s too tough for that company to add an entire salary, it can be easier for them to think in terms of bringing you aboard for what they exactly need. It’s a win for you too, because you can keep an hourly or daily rate that’s more reflective of your experience without being forced to make the kind of sacrifice you could be disappointed in yourself for making.

    Suddenly, there’s an alternative that not only might be financially feasible, but one that might even offer greater upside.

    When you invest in the stock market, do you put all your money in one stock? Probably not. You diversify. By the same principle, why shouldn’t we balance our careers the same way by diversifying where we invest our professional time among many areas?

    I’m here to tell you that the diversified life of having a professional impact on more than one company at once is not a bad thing at all – in fact, I’ll argue that it’s going to be not only an imperative for many people but one they may never turn back from if given the chance. It’s a life I currently live and I’m here to tell you that I not only make it work but love it. In the span of a week, I work at an agency. I consult. I write for 2 different blogs simultaneously. I’m finishing up writing a book. I’m networking and aiming to add more speaking engagements. I’m taking classes and going to seminars.

    This would sound a bit hectic and sometimes it is. But it’s also thrilling. Now, not long ago, the opportunity came up for me to potentially join a political campaign of a candidate I’ve admired. It would’ve been exciting, but most of these other things I’m currently doing would’ve had to go away completely. At what cost would this one job have been to my personal brand’s exposure and building of my skills?

    Naturally, some might say, “Yes, but the full-time, one job route offers stability and knowing where the work is coming from.” I respect that thinking. But the idea of the “stable” job is disappearing when many companies would still rather trim staff to cut costs than think of new ways to boost profits while retaining staff. While you may have to hustle to get more work, there is some satisfaction in having control over your own destiny too vs. wondering how and if the “powers that be” are filling the prospect pipeline substantially.

    By the way, even if they are keeping the pipeline full, do you absolutely know where you rank in their priority chain, considering the overhead they may have? At least you can make yourself #1.

    That’s not the only place where the priorities may be readjusted in your favor when you don’t work under just one roof. Depending on your situation, you may be able to use technological tools from laptops to tablets to smartphones to make yourself increasingly more mobile, meaning you can integrate more quality time for family, travel, blogging, networking, online learning and more.

    The “one job, one company, one salary” route works fine for some people but in today’s economy, it’s not going to be enough if we’re going to experience a recovery. I don’t speak purely of an economic recovery but an emotional mental recovery for those talented people whose skills are going unused. The good news is that the option of the diversified professional life isn’t an alternative or a sacrifice. It’s an opportunity for many of us to take greater ownership of our individual brands, our happiness with our self-worth and our futures.

    Sure beats waiting for a phone to ring.

    Dan Gershenson is a Chicago-based consultant focused on brand strategy and content marketing. Dan has guided a variety of CEOs and Marketing Directors at small to medium-sized companies, providing hundreds of strategic plans to help businesses identify their best niches and areas of opportunity. Dan blogs on Chicago Brander, mentors advertising students and cheers relentlessly for the Chicago Bears. Dan graduated from Drake University with a degree in Advertising

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