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Job #1 for Marketing Consultants: Join the Gig Economy and Build Your Skills

By Ken Chen

It’s a truly exciting (or terrifying) time in the job market for marketers. We’ve never had more technology, DIY, and automation in our history. The traditional paradigm of polishing a resume and looking for the next step or title in your climb up the corporate ladder is no longer applicable for the vast majority. For the growing number of people going freelance, what you see in the market can be daunting if you’ve buried your head inside a structured, less-than-innovative company for years.

It might not seem logical, but MBA students who have been buried in classes, study groups, and beer socials (long ago, I was an MBA student too), might also be equally confused. Where did all those awesome jobs go? Everyone should read: “Why I Tell My MBA Students to Stop Looking for a Job and Join the Gig Economy.” To me, these folks are in the same situation. Too many people are using the “old way” to look for work in the brave, new gig economy.

What to Do Instead of Looking for a J-O-B

Instead of looking for a J-O-B, what should one do?  Here are four tips for you.

1. Start Thinking Skills, Not Jobs.

Companies are hiring for specific skill sets now more than ever. If you are a marketer, you better know what the latest, hottest needs are. Do you know what account-based marketing is? Have you put together a content strategy? Ever manage a team to build a website or landing page of any kind? How do you feel about diving into data and doing analysis with a tool like Tableau?

2. Partner and Network With Those Who Can Do Your Not-So-Polished Skills.

What does it mean when people say there will be more collaboration than ever before? I think that the days of one person working on five to eight projects by themselves at one time are gone. In the age of specialization, no one can be an expert on so many topics.

You better arm yourself with other freelancers who are specialists, share your work values, and are reliable and trustworthy. I’ve spent much of the last five years building that kind of community at EM Marketing (yes, a shameless plug!).

3. Learn by Doing.

Taking classes and workshops are a great start to learning new skills. But rarely do any of our consultants get hired because they have an e-learning certificate from some MOOC site. I think people learn mostly by doing.

You can do that by volunteering to do a project for a friend, or discounting your fees to a potential client and selling them on “learning it together.” Or, you could find a specialist and offer to help them do the “dirty work” to save them time. That way, you can learn how to use a new tool, do some form of research or analysis you haven’t done, or observe a process you know is valuable in the workplace.

4. Stop Hunting, Start Asking.

I’d stop looking on LinkedIn and Craigslist for job postings that look like something you could do. For one, there’s a good chance you won’t learn anything new. And if you don’t, you won’t be helping yourself get the next job. Instead, I’d start asking those you trust and past colleagues you like working with if they have a difficult or neglected project you could take on. Chances are, you’ll end up not only winning a client but come away with a new skill!

In summary, it might be time for you to stop searching for traditional corporate jobs and join the gig economy. You’ll be sure to learn new skills and work on projects you enjoy.

Ken Chen

About Ken Chen

Ken Chen is San Francisco-based online marketing consultant and owner of EM Marketing. EM Marketing specializes in marketing strategy, product launches, customer acquisition, and mobile & social marketing.

One thought on “Job #1 for Marketing Consultants: Join the Gig Economy and Build Your Skills”

  1. What a great perspective! I found that spending a few years contracting/consulting certainly shifted how I approach and define career and work. Thanks!

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