Finding good employment isn’t easy in today’s world. More people are alive than at any prior point in the history of human civilization and US unemployment rates are down again at 4.7%. The level of competition is intimidating.
With the days of lucking into a great position with an underwhelming CV far behind us, we need to recognize the importance of showing our value before we even enter an interview room.
That’s where side hustles enter the equation. Filling out your CV with a secondary pursuit or two (as opposed to, say, your Frisbee skills) is a fantastic way to make your application a lot more interesting.
But what makes side hustles so worthy of your time and attention? Good question.
They’re Forward-Thinking Pursuits
If I had to describe the modern business world in one word, it would be changeable (or even volatile).
It isn’t just that automation is destroying and creating entire industries, or that the influx of powerful analytical tools has changed how we view performance; it’s also that the speed of operation has massively increased. Advancements in digital technology have granted us devices that are flexible, powerful, and capable of keeping us connected and communicating across the entire planet.
Now we need to be faster and smarter than before just to keep up with the pace of life.
In short, a potential interviewer will consider what you bring to the table and wonder, “Can this person not only keep up but be at the front of the pack?”
If you can point to a side hustle independent of any traditional employer, you’ll mark yourself as someone capable of thinking ahead, establishing an advantage over those who never operated outside of a 9-to-5 system.
Side Businesses Suggest Skill Diversity
It’s easy to get into a rut following a ‘set’ career path and find your skills stagnating. Taking on a new gig outside of that path (even if it falls within broadly the same field) presents a totally new challenge with its own range of risks and rewards.
Managing your time, dealing with new people, overcoming the hurdles that come with being your own boss– these things all expand your abilities in ways that prospective employers will find very appealing. After all, just about every business wants to expand and become even more successful, and that’s an endeavor that greatly benefits from different perspectives.
Even something that doesn’t sound like it would prove useful in other areas — like a detailed understanding of acquiring, storing and shipping crickets — can produce sparks of inspiration.
They Make Your Story More Interesting
Every professional adult has a story to tell about their working life. Their successes, their failures, their confusions, challenges and solutions.
Taking on a part-time money-making scheme is a great way to flesh out your story. You’ll have the opportunity to write and talk about how it began, what experiences it led to, and how it took you out of your usual routine.
Imagine having gone from a relatively-typical job on a goat ranch to setting up shop as a professional skull cleaner, as Carla Brauer of Dermestidarium did. That’s a memorable narrative to have on your side when you’re at the final interview stage and the other candidates are more experienced.
You might not find yourself doing anything that fascinating, but even if you’re just washing cars, you’ll have something to say about how the whole process made you feel and taught you about who you are.
Side Hustles Demonstrate Drive
Drive is an extremely important thing to possess. It’s what separates those who fail and give up from those who keep trying and failing until they find success.
And even in those who never quite achieve the success they aimed for, it’s better to be pushing ahead than succumbing to inertia (think of sharks, or even Regret Iyer, a figure I find particularly inspirational).
With a side hustle on your record, you show you that you have the drive to keep going when life throws some roadblocks in your way, something successful businesses all look for. They don’t want to hire people who’ll just roll over and concede when placed under pressure.
They want employees who’ll always search for ways to keep going, do more, find a new solution, because they’re the ones you want around you in a crisis.
They Can Be As Big (Or As Small) As You Want
Even if I’ve sold you on the overall merits of running a side hustle, you might think it isn’t something you can realistically pursue. Perhaps you think you’ll never have enough time to operate around your regular job, or that the operating costs will be prohibitive.
Well, you should consider that there’s a huge amount of flexibility in how you can go about setting something up, and it might not be as hard as you think to find something that will suit your personal circumstances.
If you’re concerned about stress, for instance, you can come up with an option that doesn’t require all that much attention on a daily basis, allowing you to keep a good amount of time reserved for relaxation.
Automation is your new best friend. Even if you already know that you can easily set up side hustle stores through platforms like WooCommerce, Magento, and Shopify, you might not be aware of the existence of practices like dropshipping, something that allows you to skip 99% of the practical aspects of online sales by leaving them to wholesalers (leaving you to focus on branding and marketing instead).
When you can set up a store that handles most of the retail process for you and requires only minimal management, can you really make the claim that you don’t have the time to run a side hustle?
What might your side hustle be? Selling a product, providing a service, sharing your expertise? Think carefully about what might enrich your life, make you some money, and ultimately make you a more attractive employment candidate.
Victoria Greene is an ecommerce marketing expert and freelance writer who likes to stay busy. She can usually be found trying to work on ten projects at the same time.You can read more of her work at her blog Victoria Ecommerce.
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