Career Change

Do You Have What It Takes To Be A Slashie?

min read
Mikaela Thompson
slash career

The formula to career success: pick a career, stick to it and become an expert in it.

Or at least that’s what we’ve always been told.

When it came to people who worked multiple jobs, they used to be considered a “jack of all trades, master of none” or simply too lazy to find a proper job.

However, workforces around the world are rethinking these ideas. The traditional trajectory of sticking to one profession, not to mention the idea of holding down a job for life, is getting increasingly challenged by the different work ideals of each generation, the changing workforce needs and the gaining traction of a gig economy. 

What are Slash Careers?

The term ‘Slash’ was coined by Marci Alboher, a New York Times columnist, in her book One Person/Multiple Careers: The Original Guide to the Slash Career to describe people who take on several concurrent jobs, roles or projects instead of a single cohesive career path. 

A slashie, or a portfolio careerist, doesn’t just work in a single field or industry but instead holds a variety of job types, going to and fro full-time employment, freelance, temporary contracts, gigs, and so on. A slashie can work full-time as an engineer and freelance as a graphic designer while getting booked to perform as part of a local band. Others may be running several businesses which are in completely different industries.

It is more than just a preferred way of working. It is a lifestyle choice.

Workforces Are Embracing the Slash Culture More Than Ever

Flexibility remains one of the strongest driving forces for workers to become portfolio careerists. With more flexibility to decide what, when, where and for whom to work for, a slash career can bring better work-life balance and integration.

In fact, APAC Workforce Insight Survey 2018 found that Hong Kong is embracing the free agent trend (someone who works independently like self-employed workers, freelancers, independent contractors and temporary workers) the most among eight other APAC markets.  About 55% of the respondents agreed that they had a preference for more flexible employment.

Dream and Passion vs. Bread and Butter

If there’s anything we’ve learnt from the pandemic, it’s this: the world can change very quickly and drastically.

With furloughs, layoffs and pay cuts, the age-old saying of don’t put all your eggs in one basket has never been truer. Having multiple income streams means less worrying about losing all income at once. This helps people get back up financially and weather through tough times. 

While being a slashie is by necessity to some, most slashies are doing it for more personal and creative reasons – it is a bridge between dream and reality.

Traditional workstyles compartmentalise who we are as human beings. Many find themselves having a job that pays the bills but doesn’t exactly soothe the soul. Humans are multifaceted in nature. Most of us have multiple hobbies or interests. Slash careers provide people with an outlet for their interests, a chance to pursue their dreams and make up for the void that their full-time jobs are unable to fill.

Additionally, a slash career may open the doors to new networks and expose you to various industries and positions where you can gain a broader range of skills and experience than someone who works in a single job, giving you an advantage over other job seekers. 

The work-life integration that a slash career provides appeals to more than just the younger cohort of workers who crave flexibility and balance. It is also attracting people looking to diversify their working life and those transitioning into or redefining their retirement. 

The Flip Side of the Coin

You get paid to do what you love. It must be great, right? 

Across the Asia Pacific region, only 1 in 3 temporary contract workers are happy, according to the “Keeping Temporary and Contract Workers Happy In This New Normal” survey by PERSOLKELLY in 2020. Contrary to popular belief, the survey actually revealed that temporary and contract workers were the least happy workforce group compared to those in permanent roles and executive positions. 

The merging of work and life comes with its downsides. Time management can be tricky when you’re juggling several different jobs, especially with jobs that you enjoy, so much so that you end up working 24 hours a day. You may also have to work irregular hours, on weekends, or even longer hours than an ordinary office job, which could lead to burnouts if you are unable to switch off between jobs.

Working self-employed or for multiple employers can also be an admin nightmare. Notably more so if you’re running several businesses simultaneously and have to file your own taxes and take care of all the paperwork, record-keeping and bills.

Considering a Slash Career?

Before diving into the slash culture, ask yourself these questions:

  • Why are you doing this?
    Do you need the flexibility to juggle family responsibilities? Is it to test out an idea? Do you need some additional cash flow so you can save up for something? Or is it because you can’t decide on a single career path? Identifying the reasons why you’re choosing a slash career can help you plan out for the long-term.

  • How are you going to define success?
    When you don’t work under a typical company framework, career advancement often doesn’t come in the form as we know it. While promotions can be hard to come by when you don’t work full-time or long enough on a job, it doesn’t mean you’re not succeeding in a career. It could be anything from getting referrals from old clients, having a steady pool of returning customers, or having the flexibility to choose when or whether or not to take jobs. Without a clear measure of success, you may find yourself in a spiral of comparing yourself to those who have traditional paths.

  • Are you ready to lose protections, support and access to benefit packages?
    This is especially true for those deciding to leave their full-time employment behind. Depending on different companies, workers who aren’t employed full-time are less likely to receive employment benefits and entitlement such as paid leave, pensions, healthcare and compensations. On top of that, independent and self-employed workers often find themselves with little protection from government regulations or legal organisations.

A slash career today is no longer just a last resort for those struggling to find work, it’s a career choice, a lifestyle choice even, among those who are confident in their abilities. Many slashies possess deep knowledge or technical skills in one profession or area, as well as other general skills. 

Looking for ways to stand out in a fierce market? Find your dream job by learning a new skill or brushing up an existing one with H Academy, where you can learn from top instructors who are all real-world professionals in their fields.

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