Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Death of the Employee

My son graduated from college last year. As with so many young people just out of school, there were not a lot of job opportunities that awaited him. Rather than move back home (whew, we avoided that bullet), he and a group of friends piled into his car and took off to Boston to find their fortunes (or at least hang out for awhile someplace other than back at home). My son is extremely energetic and is a bull dog when he sets his sights on something, so I knew he would find some sort of job to tide him over. I figured he would call me to say he’d found a job in retail or maybe selling burgers. He was, after all, a history major – so I figured his immediate prospects were limited. But here is where the story took a different turn. My son never left his new apartment. What he did was pursue his dream online – but not just search for a job online – he actually found a job WORKING online. And not just one job, but about 4 or 5 jobs. He found he was able to be a writer/researcher/blogger for hire. He became an online freelancer picking up jobs in an open market for talent. He would work for 3 weeks editing a manuscript, work part time writing for an online publication,  develop marketing collateral for firms seeking quick, affordable help, and then do the cycle all over again. He was a resource for hire. No job title really - just a bundle of varied talents that could be deployed as needed. A sort of on-line utility player. 

This experience got me thinking about the world of employment in the future and how my industry – human resource technology – will have to change radically to be able to serve the new careers of the future. My son’s experience is the epitome of that saying I have read several times in airports around the US: “10 years from now, the fastest growing jobs will be ones that aren’t even invented today.” Professional blogger, online editor, content developer, Social Media analyst, these are jobs that did not exist 10 years ago and now are very much a part of our working world. What comes next? In my opinion we will see more and more people holding multiple jobs all at the same time. The word “employee” will one day be a quaint old term from the past. There will be a large workforce of professionals who offer their services for hire.