Career Woman

4 Ways the gig economy can help women rejoin the workforce

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The gig economy is transforming the way we order food, hail a cab, and, of course, the way we work. For many women, the gig economy provides a flexible source of income and much-needed path back into the workforce.

As women balance raising children with pursuing their careers, the gig economy can fill in resume gaps and provide much-needed flexibility. The Telegraph reports that two million women intend to be self-employed by 2019.

Women who want to find a traditional job, however, often face what some call the “motherhood penalty.” In 2016, the Institute for Fiscal Studies linked time off after childbirth to suppressed wages once women return to work.

It’s no surprise, then, that researchers have discovered that more women participate in gig economy compared to men. 

If you’re considering taking up a gig economy role, you can use this article to learn why the gig economy is particularly well-suited for women who have taken time off for children. 

Work on your own schedule

Despite advances in gender equality, many mothers still disproportionately bear responsibility for raising children and running their households. Some mums say that flexibility is crucial in determining whether or not they can succeed at work.

The gig economy’s flexible nature allows mums to create their own schedule on a project-based or even daily basis. Instead of having a work day that starts at 9:00 am and ends near dinner time, you can select gigs that don’t have a set start or end time or deadlines you can set around your own schedule.

This flexibility allows you to stop work early to shuttle kids to their music lessons or sports, or take an unexpected day off if a child needs to stay home from school – all without risking your job security.

Finally, nearly 70% of gig economy workers say their primary motivation is to earn extra money. The gig economy allows mums to work only when they need extra income, such as the start of the school year when kids need new uniforms or around the holidays, allowing plenty of flexibility to take time off during school holidays.

The gig economy allows you to rejoin the workforce at your own pace, without the rigid, inflexible schedule of a traditional office job.

Refresh your skills

The gig economy is disrupting the way we work, and new technology is disrupting practically everything else.

If you temporarily left the workforce several years ago, you might discover that your former role now involves artificial intelligence, new software, or entirely innovative strategies that didn’t exist during your last full-time stint in an office.

Employers today are looking for workers with technical skills and past experience with coding, analytics software, digital marketing, and more. You might be familiar with social media, for example, but if you’re not aware of how to optimize interactive features, a potential employer might worry that you’re out of touch with the latest trends.

While some recommend taking online courses or coding bootcamps, many hiring managers don’t consider education credentials unless they are tied to a formal degree.

Past work experience, however, coupled with an online course may prove to be more compelling. You can join an online course website such as Skillshare or Udemy to bring yourself up to speed on the latest trends, then back up your knowledge by taking on short-term projects that allow you to sharpen your skills.

Freelance platforms such as Upwork and Fiverr present endless opportunities to find companies looking for short-term help.

By pursuing coursework and using the gig economy to produce related portfolio items, women can fill in the resume gaps that come with staying at home with children while catching up on essential trends, skills, and best practices in their fields. 

Consider a career change

Rejoining the workforce after motherhood presents challenges, but it also offers opportunities. Some women use their time away from the office to change the direction of their career, while others decide to join a field with more job opportunities than their old one.

Before committing to a degree or a full-time role, you may be able to use the gig economy to test out fields you might be interested in switching to.

For example, you might be interested in website development but unsure if backend, frontend, or fullstack development is right for you. Similarly, you might discover that while you love maintaining your personal social media channels, doing so for a brand is far less enjoyable.

Short-term commitments to projects or freelance work can help you determine exactly what you want to do next – without committing to a full-time role.

Forge new connections

For many people, one of the best parts of working is the opportunity to develop relationships with smart, interesting, and insightful colleagues.

These relationships hold value beyond the daily pleasures of water cooler chat. In fact, one survey found that 85% of jobs are filled through networking.

By taking on a variety of short-term freelance projects or contracts, you can quickly build up a roster of fresh professional connections in your industry.

Once you’ve established relationships with people who are familiar with your work, you can begin to explore full-time work at their companies or within their networks. It’s much easier to transition a freelance relationship into career talk over coffee or lunch than it is to rally support through cold calls alone.

The gig economy can yield the professional connections you need to jump start your return to the workforce.

Final thoughts

If you’re looking to rejoin the workforce after having kids, or simply want to earn some extra income on the side, the gig economy can provide compelling options.

With flexible hours and deadlines, you can choose to work when it makes sense for yourself and your family.

Short-term projects allow you to build new relationships in your field, explore new possibilities through a career change, and refresh your skills to keep pace with the latest trends.

Overall, the gig economy has created new opportunities for women who want to rejoin the workforce after some time away.

About Michelle Delgado

Michelle Delgado is a content developer and marketer at Clutch, a B2B ratings and reviews firm based in Washington DC. She covers recruiting and human resources

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