Competencies for Gig and Independent Work

Published on September 24, 2021

By Ellen Harpel, PhD, President, Business Development Advisors, LLC

Gig and independent work refers to a variety of full-time and part-time activities for earning income outside of an employer-employee relationship. This work is often temporary or project-based, involves different customers and colleagues, and likely does not occur in the same way every day. It is frequently self-directed and often requires the individual to play the role of employer as well as employed.

Gig and independent work is much more than driving for Uber or Lyft. It also includes many types of people working in diverse ways for different purposes, often in creative and professional or knowledge-intensive industries. Some examples are:

  • Freelancers, such as writers or graphic designers;
  • Performers and artists;
  • Independent professionals, such as consultants, researchers, and information technology specialists;
  • Entrepreneurs initiating a business idea; and
  • Individuals pursuing the money-making potential of a personal interest or hobby, such as photography.

Doing the actual work is only the beginning as independent workers need to learn how to play the role of both employer and employee. Gig and independent workers must also gain new competencies in obtaining work, conducting the work as an independent rather than an employee, and managing the business side of work. Several of these competencies are described below:

  1. Getting good quality, well-paying work requires a concerted effort. Competencies include marketing and personal branding; leveraging social networks; using technology to connect with customers; selecting work opportunities that also provide learning opportunities and support career goals; and nurturing in-demand skills in the worker’s field.
  2. Conducting work as an independent is similar but not the same as performing work as an employee. Additional competencies include narrow sets of skills such as negotiating prices and contract terms. Broader social and personal skills are also important when completing projects with team members outside of an organizational hierarchy.
  3. Managing the business side, or the employer-type tasks, involves establishing a business entity consistent with federal, state, and local laws; preparing contracts; managing revenues, expenses, and cash flow; paying the appropriate taxes and filing the required forms; organizing time wisely; and obtaining feedback and sharing reviews of the work performed in order to obtain new work and begin the project cycle again.

Full article found here:

Handout: Gig Economy Competencies_123119(PDF, 370KB)

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