Gig Basics: From Big to Small

By Michelle Petrazzuolo, Career Coach

23rd Feb 2021

If you have just retired with many years of experience, congratulations! The dedication, effort, training, and time that you haveapplied has paid off, and now you areat a time in your life where the possibilities are endless. But that might be exactly the problem and what makes taking the step of finding a gig that suits you all the harder.How can you winnow down those years of experience into a gig?

I would bet that last thing you want to do is feel like you are starting all over again in a job search. The prospect can be daunting, especially since now you would like to be doing the work you genuinely love, and not just finding something to do. The good news: your work history provides you with a calling card for business owners and hiring managers to look at and know that they are dealing with someone who has been there, done that, and can help them do it, too.

So, how do you go about snagging that gig in a way that shows your value in a painless and, dare I say it, fun way?

1.Figure out your “giggable” skills. Your previous jobs entailed lots of duties, but you want to pick the ones that will do two key things: show your potential client/employer value, while also bringing you fulfillment. To accomplish the first, think back to when you were working:

What part or parts of your job(s) did you most enjoy doing?

What were the tasks for which you got the most recognition?

What were the projects that brought the most value to your employer?

Youranswers will provide good leads for potential gig opportunities. As for seeking fulfillment, here’s where some of that fun I mentioned happens. When you are a freelancer, you get to be picky about the work you do. You no longer need to say, “Well, someone’s got to do it,” while rolling up your sleeves. Pick the work that made you feel the most energized. When you find the perfect intersection between high value and highly fulfilling work, you will find your freelancing moneymaking zone.

2.Show, don’t tell. When choosing someone to complete a gig, clients like to go with the person who they are betting will do the best job. They hedge that bet by picking someone who can say they have seen it all before and can do it all again. Assemble a collection that shows off how you can deliver. It might be an industry publication that touts your deliverables, a letter from a former boss, a news clipping, or even work samples, depending upon the type of field in which you worked. This doesn’t have to take long or be difficult - you have worked for a long time and have undoubtedly accumulated portfolio material (even if you don’t think in those terms). References also come in very handy here, so keep in touch with your network.

3.Brush up your Shakespeare. Or rather, your talk track. Just like when you were interviewing, be ready to share a few key stories that will help you sell your capabilities. Have a story ready that talks about times when you were able to deliver well on each of the services you plan to offer as a freelancer. Be ready to talk about the challenges you encountered, and how you overcame them. Know in advance the type of information and examples you will be able to share, and what you might need to keep confidential. Practice these anecdotes and be ready to talk when a client calls.

4.Turn work down that doesn’t fit in your wheelhouse. Your best options as a gig worker are when you can deliver “slam dunk” work and please your clients. That will be tough to do if your client asks you to do something outside of your expertise. In that case, consider following a polite decline with a recommendation for another gig worker you know who could do the work- it is a win for both parties, and your network strengthens, too.

I had a conversation once with a worker I was coaching on this topic exactly. She was getting requests to do administrative work, in which she had experienced andtalented, but her real passion was fundraising. She considered taking the administrative work she was offered, and pausing her pursuit of fundraising work. When I asked her why, she had a simple answer: it feels good to get an offer and for others to realize her value, even though the work didn’t make herhappy in the long term. I suggested she wait, and after a couple more weeks, fundraising work became available to her. She was so much happier in the end waiting for what she genuinely wanted, even if it made her feel uncomfortable and a bit nervous to say no.You get to define your brand now, and each of your choices contributes to that brand.

The gig economy and gig work mean diving in and finding your niche. If you are still a little nervous, browse some of the other blog posts on the Knackstor site highlighting the experiences of other Knackstors, and how they did just what you would like to do. You have a world of opportunities at your doorstep - the time to take advantage is now!