With the economic crisis continuing to bite deep into families’ pockets, many people have suddenly found themselves out of work, or simply need a bit of extra cash to get by.
For those who have been made redundant, finding a new job can feel like a task akin to squaring the circle. And there’s no getting away from it, the jobs’ market is getting more and more competitive.
It’s a reality clearly on display when jobs fairs take place, with queues of applicants snaking round the block. At a recent two-day fair in California, which was looking for servers, bartenders, cashiers and reservations agents, more than 1,000 people showed up the first day alone to interview for 200 positions available.
If you’re in that soul-destroying position of firing off hundreds of applications and attending dozens of interviews, only to be turned down time and time again, have you thought of looking at micro jobs?
As businesses look to cut their own costs, they are increasingly looking to employ freelancers rather than full-time employees so sites such as eLance, TaskRabbit, Fiverr, 99designs and 3to30.com are becoming the way for firms to find the staff they can take on board for a short-term period or for one job.
Microworkers.com is another site that has recognized the trend for micro-jobs. “Our unique approach guarantees employers that a task paid is a task successfully done,” says the site’s blurb, “while at the same time guaranteeing workers that a job completed is a job paid.”
Just as the name suggests, the tasks assigned to workers are usually quick and simple – that’s why they’re called microjobs. Tasks include social bookmarking jobs, forum participations, creating backlinks and writing reviews or articles.
Whether you want to make these short-term gigs a career, or just help you get your finances back in shape, they can help you meet specific goals like paying off debt, creating an emergency fund or saving up for a much-needed family holiday you may otherwise not be able to afford.
You may decide you don’t want to join the clock-punching employment market again after dipping your toe in the waters of micro jobbing. But, if you do, the skills you gain while doing freelance work can prove invaluable in getting back into the world of permanent work.
While working for yourself is challenging, there is a myriad of benefits. You can set your own hours, there’s no daily commute, no need to dress in a suit every day and no limits on the amount of vacation you take – so long as you get your work done.
It’s a system that can work particularly well for students who want a little extra income or stay-at-home moms who need to complete their tasks between school runs.
But there are disadvantages too. You may think it’s easier to get your work-life balance in order but, actually, you can find yourself sitting at your desk at midnight if you’ve had other commitments during the day. You have to make sure your bookkeeping is up to date and you file your taxes, there’s no insurance or retirement package and income is unpredictable.
And, if you’re thinking you can earn enough to live an Orange Country-style lifestyle, it’s unlikely you’ll get it through short-term gigs. But if you want to get back on the employment ladder or fit work around family life, micro jobbing may just provide the career turning point you need.
Guest post by Liz Hands, a financial blogger who writes for currencyconverter.co.uk