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Thursday, September 15, 2016

My Generation Will End “Employment”

Freelancing is the future of work.

We’ve heard it all before, you know, that old saying: money makes the world go ’round. It doesn’t, really. Labor makes the world go ’round, and we pay those laborers with money. That’s fundamental when we look at how business has evolved and will evolve over time. In order to see the next trends in business, we have to look at the next generation of laborers: millennials.

No office politics, no nonsense. Just a paycheck for a certain amount of time until a project is complete.

Love us or hate us, we’re here, and we make up a large part of the workforce now that we’ve almost all graduated high school. The youngest of us are getting our first jobs out of high school, either entering the workforce directly or getting part-time jobs and internships through college. The oldest of us are really starting to hit our stride professionally.

And we look a little different than the rest of you.

We have holes in our ears that we can stick our fingers through, tattoos, nerdy glasses, skinny jeans, and an in-your-face attitude to go with it all. We stay up late, wake up late, and many of us lack the crisp professionalism that Generation X and the Baby Boomers have come to expect. Some people of the older generations are declaring the end of the world as we know it. Being an “older soul,” I also sometimes declare the end of the world as we know it. We’re right.

The Death of the Job

Where’s the light at the end of the tunnel? Well, I’ve said all along (and I’ve set up myself professionally to live it out), millennials are largely going to end employment. Sure, there will be government jobs and management positions that are a little more stationary, but we’re headed toward a world where companies will contract out the majority of their work.

Companies will take bids from individuals to work on specific projects in their respective fields, or the high-profile ones will be sought after by name. Millennials want to set our hours, our pay, and decide what credentials we need to signal our value. Millennials want to freelance rather than be employed.

So, Gen X, Baby Boomers, if you can’t beat us, join us.

I ran across the idea for writing this blog post after taking a survey put out by Money magazine. The poll asks, “If you could make enough money to live, would you go freelance?” I obviously voted “yes,” and so did 78% of the other people taking the poll. We aren’t tied to “the man,” which is really attractive to millennials. Freelancers get a repertoire of work to take with them to the next company to offer a job. They can say, “Hey, I did X for ABC Company. I improved their revenue by $Y, or had Z% clicks on an ad campaign. Hire me.” It’s all more tangible, and more freeing to do this on our own rather than through someone else in a 9-5. No office politics, no nonsense. Just a paycheck for a certain amount of time until a project is complete.

It Has Already Begun

We see some industries work that way already. Almost all commercial construction jobs are set up so that companies bid to bigger companies to complete a job. I just learned this weekend that campgrounds run by the Corps of Engineers take bids for the people that work there too. We want something flexible like that so we can live our personal lives how we choose.

So, Gen X, Baby Boomers, if you can’t beat us, join us. You all are the ones who have the management positions. You sit in the conference rooms where these decisions are made. Instead of expanding your graphic arts department, hire all of your graphic arts designers through Fiverr (not a typo) or another freelancing site. Freelance out your labor, save time on training, save money on insurance, save office space and let us work from home. That’s the way we want to work, sure, but it helps you as well.

  • Baylen Smith is a proud Kentuckian who looks to expand freedoms and foster the growth of small businesses and communities. His web site is