Everything you're told about the job market in college is wrong. It's not intended to be, the intentions are always good, but by the time you exit college things change.

When I was in college a professor was teaching us about how Krispy Kreme was going to be the next Starbucks. All the data said it would be, but I disagreed. I said that healthy eating habits would prevail and Krispy Kreme won't create "the third place" like Starbucks. He asked, "how are you certain?" I said, "I'm not. It's a guess based on people not data."

Change is inevitable. Some but not all of it can be predicted. It was easy to predict that Millennials wouldn't wind up working 40 years for the same company. Just as it's easy to predict that a good amount of fast food jobs are going to be replaced by kiosks.

The Key Is Being Able To Adapt Quickly

Don't judge your success on old metrics or look for your next job in old ways. You don't need an internship. You don't even need a full-time job to grow your career. And companies are looking for the best talent, not the best resume. Short-term gigs have become commonplace because it's low-risk for the company and high-reward for the Millennial.

These are small but important shifts in the career ecosystem.

"It's common for Millennials to have 1, 2, 3 jobs out of school. A lot of them didn't do internships in school. The short term gig has helped them quickly get in to the experience level to work full-time," said Brian Phifer, CEO Phifer & Company, a leading global recruiter for top advertising, public relations and digital agencies. "HR has to understand that. We are back to a shortage of talent so we have to be willing to look differently and look at these individuals as full-time individuals. There are tons of jobs out there. It's all about being open to the right opportunities."

Talking to Phifer for five minutes will change your perspective on the job market.

"It's extremely healthy, a lot of hiring going on, the lowest unemployment we have been in for decades. The media says that there are so many people looking for jobs but in the big cities they are really in need of talent," said Phifer. "We commonly talk about this with high end CEOs at IBM, American Express and large global advertising/PR agencies. They know the biggest problem over the next five years will be the war on talent and gaining access to talent across the board in finance, legal, healthcare, everywhere."

Why Companies Are Choosing The Gig Economy

Like anything it's all in who you know, but also in how you present yourself.

"No one says I need a VP of Marketing. They say I need someone that can do social media, my brand, support for sales team. More and more managers are being specific and matching the needs of the skills that need to be performed to do it," said Jody Greenstone Miller--a former digital television executive for The Walt Disney Company and White House Special Assistant--now runs the INC 5000 consultancy Business Talent Group.

She specializes in delivering high-end independent consultants to the world's best companies.

"It's very hard for a person to be good at all things," said Miller. "This is why companies choose to break down work in to projects and what deliverables and talent need to be applied to that project. It's usually some mix of internal expertise and outside expertise. Companies no longer need to own that talent but access that talent. It's a new way to think about getting work done."

How To Position For A Gig

Short-term gigs are incredibly efficient for the company and low-risk. And companies are willing to pay a premium for the right talent. If this is the new trend--which plenty of evidence shows--then it forces the job-seeking Millennial to adjust how they position.

Less time needs to be devoted to building the resume. More time needs to be spent proving you can deliver on an expected result. This means being more self-promoting, creating case studies and establishing thought leadership.

And if you think that's crazy think about it from the perspective of the company. Who would they rather hire: The person that looks great on paper or the person they know with 100 percent certainty can do the work?

Exactly.

Published on: May 19, 2017