eParachute Blog

On finding the work of your dreams, from Dick Bolles & the team at eParachute.

5 Thoughts for Your “Work Search” in a Digital Economy

I’m not going to say that jobs - and therefore the “job search” - are dead. But you’re going to increasingly find that the work opportunities you discover (or that discover you) may not look like a traditional job. So here are five thoughts on how those alternatives might affect your search for work.

Thought 1: You’re most likely to be more successful in your work search if you remain open to a variety of options. Hirers are always testing new ways to make sure there’s a good fit with a worker and their potential work, so you may be offered the chance to do a “tryout” or short-term project. If your situation allows you to do that, it could be a good way for you to test out a work opportunity, too.

Thought 2: Instead of finding a job opening, you may actually be catalyzing work, more than actually finding work. (This is what “Parachute” author Dick Bolles called “the hidden job market,” but which we probably have to update to “the hidden work market.”)

I think of this as finding problems that don’t yet have a problem-solver attached to them. For example, years ago I had lunch with a friend who was starting a magazine, and who couldn’t find enough tech-knowledgeable freelance writers. So I offered to draft an article, and if he didn’t like it, he didn’t need to pay me. I ended up writing twice the requested word count - and getting paid for two articles.

Thought 3: Just as with a traditional job search, you’ll succeed the most at catalyzing new work for yourself if you 1) know your own skills well, and can clearly describe the kinds of problems you’re best at solving, 2) are using your contacts network to reach people before work opportunities are listed online, and 3) have done your homework so you know that the people you’re talking to have the kinds of problems you’re good at solving.

Thought 4: You’re the one who determines how happy you would be with something less than a full-time, long-term job, if that’s the work you find, or that finds you. You might like the flexibility of part-time or project work, or you may hate the uncertainty. You might enjoy the variety of doing multiple projects at once, or it might stress you out. Sometimes you’ll need to take whatever work you can find, and at other times you’ll be able to hold out for something more ideal. As always, the more options you can generate for yourself, the more you’ll be in a position to choose what works best.

Thought 5: Remember that alternative work arrangements may have the potential to lead to more. After I wrote that freelance article, that friend asked if I wanted to join his staff. Then, if I wanted to run the reviews section. And finally, after he departed, the publisher asked me to be the editor-in-chief.


Try to continually envision what kind of work alternatives might work for you, and test out those alternatives so you can see if they fit. We’re in a brave new world of a digital work economy, and the more flexible you can be, the more alternatives can be available to you. We’ll explore these and other options in our free Webinar, Wednesday May 9th at 10am PT - "The 6 Best Job Search Strategies For Today".

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