My Father-in-law, who is 83 and lives in the Bronx tells the story of his immigrant father who came from Italy to pursue the American dream during the Great Depression. As he details the trials and challenges that his father faced, he likes to tell the story about how he would work seven jobs in one day to make ends meet. His father had figured out how to do “project work” long before the term was coined. He had to combine enough different small jobs in one day, from different employers, to make the wage he needed to add up to a full-time job. So, each day he would head out and look for his seven jobs; paint a fence, unload a truck, carry boxes, make a delivery, etc. Over time he figured out how to have these jobs lined up and he made it through the Depression.
Fast forward to today and I can imagine this approach to work returning soon.
The reality is that many of the jobs that have been eliminated over the past several months will likely not return intact as they once were. What is more likely is that work and tasks will be much more compartmentalized and scrutinized at what I call the “molecular level”. They will be evaluated against the hours/wage available for the work. Tasks will be broken down between the essential and the nice to do’s. The nice to do’s will get eliminated. Where in the past a temporary employee might have been hired for a few weeks to work on a project, we may soon see individuals hired in much smaller increments of days or hours to focus and complete the work at hand and then move on. On the surface, this doesn’t look too attractive because of lack of health-care benefits and other full-time employee perks. But, we must look at everything differently now.
If you are job hunting, now is the time to catalogue and detail your specific skills that can be applied to project work. Perhaps you’vebeen laid-off from a finance role and have not found another position yet. But, you have accounting skills that could be utilized on a part-time or project basis. You may find that you could be of tremendous help to a small business that doesn’t want or need a full-time accountant, but does need their books closed and internally audited once a month, taking up a few hours or aday.
The point is that we may need to become used to the idea of working three hours a day at three different job sites for three different employers. While this may seem strange initially, think about the diversity of the work and the people you will meet. You may find that this approach keeps your mind fresher and less likely to bore of the day-in and day-out work or company. So, start thinking about what work you can do now on a project basis and begin putting together a full-day from multiple parts.
These are different times and approaching available positions with a much more open mind about the time and effort required could open up a number of new doors for you. Also, it doesn’t mean that any of this is going to last forever. If you happen to be the best at what you do at the three hour a day job, when the requisition for the full-time position gets approved you are already in the door and maybe even in the front of the line.