I ran across an article recently on LinkedIn talking about the latest statistics for the gig economy. It’s worth checking out. My takeaway from the article is that an increasing number of Baby Boomers in senior level roles are opting into freelancing or consulting as a transition to their semi-retirement.
Think about it. Instead of going from a regular full-time job to retirement, individuals are making several smaller moves toward retirement. Full-time job TO full-time freelancer TO semi-retirement THEN unretirement AND retirement.
The good news is that I believe organizations are very open to this type of new career transition plan. Granted, it’s very different from what they’ve done in the past. And, it will probably involve some sort of trial and error in terms of getting the conversations right with employees and coordination in making it happen. Nonetheless, I think with the challenges that companies are having in finding and keeping talent, it makes a lot of sense.
But for individuals looking at the next decade of their careers, it means they need to think differently too. It’s a big enough decision going from full-time to retired. Now, we’re talking about several small moves, all of which need some level of planning.
We should start thinking about career transitions earlier. You can’t just flip a switch and become a freelancer or consultant. It’s true that you would have the knowledge and skills to do the work. And it’s pretty easy to set up a home office. The part of freelancing and consulting that takes time is building a network. So, if consulting is in your future, you must start building the marketing plan.
Lifelong learning has never been more important. When you become a freelancer or consultant, you are in charge of everything. If you’re used to calling the technology department every time your computer goes on the fritz or having someone proofread all of your communications, those things go away when you leave Corporate America. Sure – you can hire someone to help you but that can get pricey.
It will be necessary to financially plan for these transitions as well. Freelancing can be terrific in terms of having time to travel, pursuing a hobby, or spending time with family. On the other hand, freelancing means you’re responsible for all of your income, including benefits like healthcare and vacation. So, moving to a lifestyle where you have more control also means you’ll want to make sure you can afford it.
One of the ways that individuals can transition toward their retirement lifestyle is by spending some time as a freelancer or consultant. Organizations seem to be very willing to consider these arrangements. But it needs to work for everyone. Companies want individuals with knowledge and skills. Individuals want flexibility and fair compensation.
To make this successful, both companies and individuals will need to start planning earlier and communicating more often.