This post is courtesy of guest blogger: Laura Zukosky. The catchphrase “Jack-of-all-trades” has been used for years to describe a stellar employee who wears many hats. Typically, this type of employee can accomplish more in one day than most can in an entire week. When it is time to transition to a different career, many of these skills and talents get muddled in text on the resume. A skilled resume writer can help categorize undefined attributes of prior work experiences with the hope that the new company will recognize the high value of their new hire.
Yet there is a modern breed of “worker” that has developed recently. The uncategorized laborer with a patchwork of skills and talents who does not fit neatly in a box. Small business owner, gig worker, side hustle or freelance experience may be a part of their story.
Behold, the “Multi-Hyphenate.” Perhaps you are a lawyer with social media skills who happens to teach fitness? Or an accountant who brews Kombucha and sells it at a local Farmer’s Market? Or a pastry chef, writer, and cycling tour guide? Or a mother who is raising young children with an online direct sales business who is also a master gardener offering classes?
I recently heard the term “multi-hyphenate” in a webinar that was hosted by businesswomen offering their advice to those who had left the workforce in the past year. Lack of affordable childcare, online schooling and downsized companies deposited a large pool of unemployed workers. People attending the webinar had good ole-fashioned gumption and more to offer the world than a cute “momboss” hashtag on their Instagram bio. What was needed after the webinar was a bit of structure to help wrangle the collective “side hustle” mentality. I left the session believing we were all some type of entrepreneur with potential to have multiple streams of income. Every participant, including myself, had drive and ambition to create something that could accommodate disruptions, allow for remote work and provide schedule flexibility.
Rather than go it alone, some find refuge in the vast ocean of knowledge on the Internet. Seeking new skills for free or at a small fee, one can dive into the clearance rack of knowledge much like the overstuffed displays at a large department store. There are some great finds out there – free webinars, YouTube videos and newsletters that can get you started. Whether it is learning how to attract business through social media, mentorship programs, finance classes or something to nurture your creative side, it takes patience and perseverance. The hunt-peck method can provide a foundation for getting your mind wrapped around the concept of honing in on the skills you may be lacking. Much like the typing class in high school, up-skilling is worth its weight in gold.
As a multi-hyphenate myself, I needed to find a career coach. This was a cross between talk-therapy, guided soul-searching and identifying training opportunities. Learning how to narrow down the subjects within my multi-hyphenated strategy was a bit arduous. It is so much easier to apply for a regular job with very specific experience requirements. My coach helped me sort through my cobwebs of past job experiences. This forced me to list what I enjoyed about those experiences and how I excelled. I could tell that I was heading in the direction of “jack-of-all-trades, master of none.” At least I had a list!
Defining the product or service that can solve a problem people are willing to pay for is the goal. I never questioned my grit, but I did question the “what” I was purporting to offer.
As part of the process, refer to Dr. Seuss’ “Horton Hears a Who!” In this popular children’s book, Horton is the only one who can hear Whoville, a tiny town on a speck of dust. While the other animals in the book attempt to burn the speck of dust, Horton goes through great lengths to save it. Figuring out what makes a multi-hyphenate strategy work is your “Who” and utilizing the help of a qualified career coach can help you define it.
Once the idea gels, find a competent business coach. Coaches can help mitigate the pitfalls of “trial and error.” It is important to leverage available resources to avoid wasting time, energy and money. There are mentors and coaches everywhere, with some charging for comprehensive programs or monthly memberships. There are also free services to get started, check out www.score.org.
Multi-hyphenate strategizing is based on having a bootstrap attitude. You have your own back and when you put your “back into it” you are making progress. Just remember to rely on available resources to develop your business plan, no matter how many vines are growing on your trellis. If you want to make money, be authentic to your brand(s) and expect some drudgery as you develop your schedule, promotional material and contracts. Do the work. It may feel like too much at times, but it will provide security on your pathway to success.
Exacting your dream “job(s)” is to list the skills that you know are your strong suit. Perhaps the thing you are passionate about is lying in wait and you simply need to find a way to earn money from it. You don’t need to have an MBA or loads of capital to get started. Maybe you can work part time or volunteer in an area you are considering if you are re-entering the workforce. Perhaps start a small side hustle by being a client of someone already doing it. Project management, organization and technology are your friends. There are virtual assistants you can hire if you need help; the multi-hyphenate creative types oftentimes lose sight of business basics. Simply acknowledge it, don’t judge.
So rather than sound like an impossibly difficult Starbucks drink order, embrace the fact that you have multiple talents that can earn income. Do not dismiss the power of conversation if you are interested in something; seek out support with the help of a coach. Think about informational interviews with people who are already doing what you are considering. In general, there is no quick start to a multi-hyphenate strategy. Start small. Think big. You’d be surprised how much you can get done in a day.
Laura Zukosky:Lawyer-social media marketing consultant – fitness expert – health coach – writer – CASA volunteer- mother of four