I was DM’ing a Russian friend today about pandemic life in Kazan, Russia. She’s been working from home for more than a month now for a multinational. Management told her this week “the company saved so much money, they’re letting us all work from home permanently.” Thus begins the new normal of permanently online jobs.
This is a trend I started writing about more than a month ago as weekend columnist for The Savvy Retiree. Early on in this corona crisis, I predicted many new stay-at-home workers were going fall in love with the work/life balance they’ve now experiencing … and that many companies were going to recognize that workers can be just as productive, if not more so, working from home. The upshot of that corporate realization, I calculated, would be increasing numbers of companies deciding that a stay-at-home workforce makes a whole lot of sense economically. It reduces the costs of office space, utilities, and insurance. So, why pay to run a cubicle farm when all your workers already have a “cubicle?” They have their kitchen, a home office, or even a table at a nearby coffee shop.
And now, that’s precisely what’s unfolding. As I’m writing this (May 13, 2020) Twitter has just announced that it will allow all 4,900 employees worldwide to work from home … forever.
Welcoming to the official start of the New Normal. From here on out, online jobs will become so commonplace that “working from home” will simply be called “working.”
But here’s the thing: Not everyone is work-at-home material.
And that’s a boon to those of us who are already digital nomads, or who aspire to be.
On the Cusp of Massive Boom in Online Jobs
Demand for freelance workers is going to explode across all manner of industries and skillsets. This new normal won’t just be easy pickin’s for creative types such as writers and web designers. We’re going to see a massive boom in demand for online job skills such as system administration, database design, customer-retention marketing, project scheduling, lead generation, financial accounting, legal services, Google Analytics, SQL programming, accounts-receivable and accounts-payable management, branding, usability testing, budgeting and forecasting, product design, media relations, video production and editing … the list goes on.
That means right now is the time to prepare yourself for the Golden Age of Freelancing.
You want to position yourself as someone who stands out in a narrowly defined niche. You don’t want to be a jack-of-all-trades.
Here’s why: Company executives and managers reflexively understand that some workers will fail in a work-from-home setting. Some can’t tolerate the isolation. Others won’t be able to manage their own desires to play during the day instead of work. In fact, I’m certain managers already have an inkling of who those workers are, based on what they’ve seen during the corona crisis.
As such, those workers will “made redundant” and moved out in time.
And, assuming they already haven’t begun, those managers and execs will start wading through online freelancing sites looking for two, overarching characteristics:
- Freelancers who have specific skillsets; and
- Freelancers who’ve already proven they have the right work-ethic to succeed working from home.
As such, if you’re a freelancer – or a wanna be freelancer – thin-slicing your skillset makes a lot of sense nowadays.
By that, I mean build multiple online profiles at multiple freelance sites. In doing, pull apart your arsenal of talents to appeal to specific needs clients will be looking for.
Maybe you’re good at web design, and if so, fine, market yourself broadly. Some companies aren’t sure what they want. They might be attracted to your scope of skills and contact you for help figuring out what they need.
Many companies, however, know exactly what they want and they’ll soon be looking for freelancers with highly targeted skills. So, if you are that web pro, build separate profiles explicitly noting your skills in designing landing pages … or your skills excelling at search-engine optimization … or working with Amazon Web Services functionality … or building online databases.
Highlight your successes in your profile. Ask those for whom you’ve completed projects to leave reviews/ratings on your profile for other potential clients to see. And create profile headlines that immediately speak to what you offer. Don’t pitch yourself as “Best Web Services at a Great Price.” That tells would-be buyers bupkus. Pitch yourself as “Landing pages that translate into sales,” or “My SEO lands you on Page One.”
The point is that in the world of online jobs, your broad resume doesn’t matter. Your profile does. You want to demonstrate mastery of a specific skill that buyers are demanding. Potential clients have thousands of profiles they might explore. To get them to engage with your profile, you have to immediately let them know how you can benefit them.
So now’s the time. This is our moment as freelancers and digital nomad. Corporate America is about to beat a path to our door. Prepare yourself to prosper.