What is the Gig Economy?

The term ‘gig economy’ refers to taking on short jobs from different people, usually online. These tend to be one-off commissions that work to supply-and-demand principles. Working like this gives people flexibility in the hours they work and the kind of work they do but provide little security such as holiday and sick pay. Typically, when people talk about the gig economy, they’re referring to freelancing.

Another term – portfolio career – refers to having a couple of jobs that contribute to a career, for example: working in an office part-time and mentoring children part-time. These jobs don’t have to be related but help build a portfolio of transferable skills and specialist knowledge. Consecutive short contracts can also shape your portfolio career. They allow workers to constantly reassess whether they are heading in the right direction and prioritise certain things. However, living like this can cause stress as unemployment is only ever a few months away.


Benefits of working in the Gig Economy

With that in mind, what are the benefits of working in the Gig economy?

Many companies opt for these options over permanent employment because it awards them more flexibility (and less accountability). They don’t have to give you sick pay, holidays, maternity cover, they don’t have to invest in your training, they can gain source from a global marketplace and they only hire you when they have work for you. As such, employees tend to take on several jobs, work on the side of full-time employment, or look at complementary income streams that provide a back-up plan.

It can be a bit dispiriting, but, there are a lot of benefits to working in the gig economy too. For example, you can:

  • Find a professional lifestyle that suits you
  • Work digitally from anywhere
  • Work on projects that interest you
  • Check in with yourself regularly and evaluate where to go next
  • Gain experience in a variety of fields, industries and roles
  • Work flexible hours
  • Make money as and when you need it


How the Gig Economy could snag you a permanent graduate job

Most graduates still want to work in a more secure role, with only 30% saying they would be willing to work in the gig economy permanently.

Graduate-level jobs are highly competitive and in order to even be considered for interview, you need to stand out. When you’re competing against other graduates, qualifications alone are not enough to ensure a place at the table. You’re competing against mature students with work experience, postgraduates with specialisms and sometimes internal candidates that have worked their way up. What makes you stand out?

According to Business Matters Magazine, two fifths of recruiters say an entrepreneurial mindset is highly valued and a key determiner of success. Entrepreneurs understand what it takes to create a business and keep it running, which is why employers often fast-track them to interview.

What are they looking for?


  1. Commercial awareness
  2. Ability to sell
  3. Ability to network
  4. Negotiation, communication and persuasiveness
  5. Innovation and creative thinking

Showing these five traits is actually a lot simpler than it seems. Having freelance work or self-employment on your CV acts as a shortcut for recruiters looking for these skills. If you’ve been taking on various ‘gigs’ but don’t know how to show that, it’s actually pretty simple: You’ve been self-employed.

On the other hand, if you’re lacking in work experience, working self-employed as a freelancer whilst you conduct the job hunt simultaneously gives you this experience and brings the money in.

Showing that you’ve worked for yourself indicates that you have the skills it takes to work across different departments, understand how businesses work and have the soft skills to back up your academic or technical knowledge.


Where to start

Working out what you have to offer is the first step. From there you can figure out who will pay you and where to find them. Professional work and Creative/IT work are some of the most common services provided by freelancers and often draw on individual skillsets.


No matter what your degree, you have a unique combination of skills and knowledge that make you a specialist in something. You can use that to showcase your entrepreneurial skills through freelancing work, cover any gaps in employment and show initiative.

UCLan can help you develop these desired skills even after graduation. Our Propeller service has an online platform dedicated to developing your freelance offering. Flightpath comprises of four modules looking at your freelance potential; creative thinking; getting customers and creating a personal brand. What’s more, it’s free and can be accessed from anywhere, at any time.