Sunday, June 09, 2013

Use a Side Hustle to Stand Out From the Crowd

In the comments of my post Five Effective Ways to Find Your Best Second Career Kita wrote:

Everyone I know has a side hustle of some kind I think it’s needed in this economy I just think you need something that will make you stand out from the rest in a big way.
This is great advice for the marketing graduate mentioned in the above post:
After obtaining her marketing degree the only work this woman was able to find was as a retail clerk. She tells me employers won’t hire her because she‘s too old (over 50) and that her skills aren’t strong enough. She specifically mentioned her computer skills stating she has not been able to pass a computer proficiency exam.
Another commenter wrote:
Marketing can be rough as some positions rely solely on appearance, so unfortunately the younger the better.

This is why it is absolutely imperative for the woman above to do everything possible to improve her computer skills now. 

Before she can even think about standing out from the crowd she needs to become incredibly qualified:
She should become proficient with the software programs companies expect new hires to be familiar with. This may involve taking additional classes then practicing at home. She could track her budget and expenses in excel, develop dummy power point presentations, create website graphics in Photoshop or build her own website. She could use the free version of a program similar to Photoshop called GIMP, if she doesn’t want to pay for Photoshop. Also, some placement firms and temporary agencies offer computer training to their job candidates.

Once she meets the basic computer requirements, how can she stand out?

Join local marketing associations:
With a quick internet search I was able to fine three marketing associations in the Milwaukee area: BMA Milwaukee, American Marketing Association, and Milwaukee Interactive Marketing Association. This woman should not only join at least one of them, but she should actively participate by attending their meetings and events. Listen to what members are talking about and what their concerns are. She could write blog posts covering these topics on her own blog or the organization’s website. Then link these posts to her linked-in account. Volunteer to work on a committee or the board. By becoming an active member she has a greater opportunity to network, practice skills, learn from others and make mistakes in a non-work related setting.  

Volunteer for a nonprofit organization:
Most non-profit organizations are hurting for volunteers. Offer to write their newsletter, update their social media accounts and website. Or better yet volunteer to evaluate, work with, update or create their marketing program.  

Work for free:
It sounds as if it’s too late for this woman to secure an internship, but she could seek out small employers and offer to provide marketing services for free. Many side-hustlers get their start working for free. You gain experience while building your resume and gaining references.

Start your own marketing company:
Create your own social media, website, blog or marketing company.  Use the references and experience you gleaned from your professional association membership, volunteer work and working for free to create your portfolio.  Then sell yourself as a contract worker.

Gain experience working for a temporary agency:
Working as a temp has always been one of my favorite ways to gain experience, but the woman from above was not a proponent of this idea. She felt this wasn't feasible.  She could not afford to quit her permanent job to work in a temporary position.

What standing out from the crowd does not mean:
After reading Alison Green’s post a job applicant stopped by with a plant and candy, I feel it is worthwhile to mention a couple of things a job candidate should not do to stand out from the crowd. Do not send hiring managers gifts of any kind including candy, wine, gift baskets, fruit baskets, plants, baked goods including dropping off brownies, cookies, cakes or donuts and never ever send them a framed picture of yourself. The only things you should be sending a hiring manager are a well written cover letter and your resume. Also do not call the hiring manager to make sure they received your resume or to tell them you are the perfect candidate for the job. And never ever stop in to see them without a prearranged interview. All of these gimmicks are likely to land your resume directly into the trash can.  

Unfortunately without contacts, experience or stellar grades a degree by itself probably won’t open too many doors. I agree with Kita, if you want to stand out in the job market in this economy you are going to need a side-hustle.

Do you have a side-hustle? Has it helped you stand out from the crowd?

If you enjoyed this post you may also like:
What to do when you are unhappy with a job offer
How to find work when you don't have experience
Why networking is important


  1. Very good post. I landed one of my jobs by doing volunteer work because they saw the potential. I plan on getting back into volunteering very soon you just never know what doors may open. A lot of people start off for free. My husband did websites and logos for free when he first started his business to get clients under his belt. No he didn't want to do it but after a couple of months of doing so he now has steady paid work coming in.

  2. Networking is best tool. Also, don't be afraid to call on people you've met at conferences but barely know. That's what I did when I moved to San Diego. I contacted a woman I'd met at a couple of conferences I'd attended. I remember that she knew my boss, so I looked her up, dropped his name and soon we were in conversation and talking about job prospects. Took a while, a year actually, but I did get hired and have been there for more than 15 years!

  3. Great tips. Followed you from SITS.

  4. Thats great advice. Especially the volunteer for a local non-profit. Companys love it and the non-profits make great references and write excellent letters of recommendations

  5. Kita,
    You are motivating me to get out and do more volunteer work. Maybe it will also help pull me out of my rut.

  6. Monica,
    What a great example of the power of networking. You established a connection, then followed up. What did you have to lose.

  7. Vickie,
    Thanks for stopping in.

  8. Michael,
    I don't think anyone can go wrong volunteering for a non-profit.