Gig economy workers: Resumes are out, experience is in

When applying for work in the gig economy, hiring managers aren't looking for cover letters or traditional resumes. Here's how to market your skills.

Gig economy workers: Resumes are out, experience is in

The gig economy is completely changing what employees currently think of as the workforce, especially for young professionals. Nearly half (46%) of Generation Z employees work as freelancers, and that rate will only grow as approximately 61 million Gen Zers enter the workforce in the next few years.

A gig worker is not a full-time employee in a full-time job, said Diane Mulcahy, author of The Gig Economy. Rather, "They're independent contractors, or people who are working on a consulting basis, generally speaking," she said.

SEE: Telecommuting policy (Tech Pro Research)

The major appeal of gig work is the flexibility: 95% of all workers agree that the flexibility to balance work and family is important, according to a Morning Consult report. And the majority (80%) of gig workers said they are happy with their jobs.

"The future of the gig economy is that it's growing," Mulcahy said. "Traditional work doesn't work for everybody. When you interview full-time employees, the majority are not engaged, not happy, not satisfied, waste a lot of time at work, and sit in expensive real estate. There are lots of ways to work differently--the gig economy is not the only answer, but it's an attractive answer for a lot of people for whom traditional full-time employment really isn't working."

However, gig work isn't something to rush into, said Matthew Guarini, vice president research director at Forrester. Candidates need to first determine if their skills are something that could be successful in the gig economy, he said. As an independent contractor, you may gain flexibility, but you also lose the corporate benefits, like healthcare and paid time off.

For employees who want to shift from a full-time job to gig work, start doing gig work on the side and ease into the business, said Mulcahy. The jump straight from full-time work to a gig job is not only stark, but unreliable. "Make a plan to enter the gig economy over a year, or 18 months, and during that time start doing side gigs so that you can make sure that there's demand for your service," she said.

How to enter the gig economy

If you've determined you are ready for gig work, put away your resume, said Keith Ryu, CEO of Fountain--a hiring platform for gig companies including Uber, Grubhub, and Lime. "With the changing landscape of the hourly workforce and increased use of technology, resumes are becoming less necessary," Ryu said.

Many gig companies are sifting through a huge volume of candidates, using automation to process each one, rendering traditional hiring techniques such as resumes and cover letters inefficient, he added.

Candidates applying to gig jobs will begin with just that: An application. "Online job applications for gig work don't generally rely on resumes," said Ryu. "Instead, the application consists of sections the worker can fill out such as name, age, availability and other applicable information."

Once that information is vetted, companies may ask for more details about the candidate, or the application may have a space for candidates to add experience.

People hiring for gig jobs don't usually want a long list of past jobs with responsibilities bulleted underneath, said Mulcahy. "In the gig economy, people more often will submit examples of their work product to give the potential client an idea of the kind of work that they do," she said. "If you already work independently, many people spend a fair amount of time on LinkedIn sharing their content, or have built their own website, to showcase their work."

Or, if a candidate is a recent college graduate, they should put together a portfolio based on internships, externships, or projects, Mulcahy said. People currently in college can also go to an online platform like Upwork to bid for side gigs and begin creating a portfolio, she added.

More and more people are using LinkedIn or other online platforms to expedite the hiring process, said Guarini. Automating the process not only makes things better and faster for hiring managers, but also for candidates, he added.

Traditional resumes, as a whole, will eventually be useless, Guarini added. "What will make resumes obsolete will be a combination of things like LinkedIn and gig-based marketplaces," he said. "This combination will digitize the necessary information and make it near real-time for better decision making."

Want to become successful in the gig economy? Check out this TechRepublic article to find out what skills can get you there.

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Image: iStockphoto/vladans