The joke that whatever X is, “there’s an app for that,” is more accurate than funny anymore. The “gig economy” has reached the point where personal services—cleaning, driving, delivery, odd jobs—are operating in the same space as traditional contract and freelance employment like graphic design, IT support and home health care. These services are usually accessed via a smartphone app that connects a registered worker with a client in need.
As you become more comfortable with using apps in your job search and career networking, it may become attractive to register with one or more services as a way to gain experience and earn some money, even to replace a regular job. You should be careful, though, about how you approach gig work, and what it means for you personally and financially.
Where to Work
There are apps for almost any service that you can imagine nowadays, so it’s possible to find opportunities that match almost any skills and availability. Here are just a few examples:
Many of these apps also include more seasoned professionals, too, and there are apps—like Fancy Hands for personal assistance and Upwork for creative services—that cater specifically to traditional gig workers, like freelance writers. You can explore all kinds of gig economy apps on Hurdlr.
There are benefits to gig work, especially if a full-time job doesn’t fit your schedule—it’s usually flexible, can pay better per job than an hourly wage, and can help you get work experience in a field that you want to enter professionally—but there are also risks.
This article covers many of the common concerns, and there are others as well; some companies using gig labor have been sued by workers for lack of payment and exploitative practices, and even some of the biggest run into legal and regulatory trouble around types of employment and allowing un-credentialed people to do work that requires certification.
The greatest concerns are on what gig work usually leaves out—unlike full-time employment, there are usually no health care or retirement benefits, nor a fixed schedule or wage to plan around, and paying income taxes becomes your responsibility.
Keep all of these things in mind if you’re thinking about gig work; you may be able to make it work for you, either part-time or even to make a living, but be mindful of the risks and the additional responsibilities that come with it, too. You may be able to get good localized advice at your local Goodwill.