With the invention of the “gig job” — temporary, ad hoc work found online — the American workplace is shifting drastically. The value on remote work has bled into the traditional workforce, with more companies offering flexible hours and locations — and since the digital boom created an influx of positions like web developers, bloggers, and social media managers, many of these jobs can be done anytime, anywhere. The tech revolution is changing more than office culture. It’s affecting the whole makeup of the American workforce. More and more people are leaving their office jobs and not coming back — favoring the independence, balance, and career actualization of being self-employed. In fact, 27 million Americans will leave traditional work in favor of self-employment in the next two years. This shift will bring the total number of full-time self-employed professionals to 42 million, effectively tripling the current population of workers.
In fact, 27 million Americans will leave traditional work in favor of self-employment in the next two years.
And the demographics of these new self-employed individuals are even more surprising. Because many of these new positions require a certain amount of technical knowledge, it’s easy to paint a picture of the modern self-employed professional as a trend-savvy, urbanite millennial. However, according to the 2018 self-employment report, 49 percent of current freelancers are over 50. Additionally, another 32 percent of Baby Boomers who are currently working full-time are planning to make the switch to freelance within the next 5 years.
Self-employed Baby Boomers Are Using Tech to Subvert Ageist Stereotypes Instead of driving them away, technology is helping the older generations fight ageism in the workplace.
Many baby boomers are using social media to get hired (22 percent), while another 26 percent have used content marketing strategies.
According to a study conducted by the AARP in 2014, 64 percent of adults reported facing ageism in the workplace. However, freelancers have learned to use tech to their advantage. Because the nature of many new self-employed jobs can be done entirely online, most freelancers never meet their employers face-to-face. That means potential employers are forced to make hiring decisions based purely on qualifications. Many baby boomers are using social media to get hired (22 percent), while another 26 percent have used content marketing strategies.
50, Tech-ing, and Thriving
Technology may always be evolving, but generational gaps can poise a few strategic advantages for baby boomers. For one, they’ve got several more years of experience under their belts, as well as education in key areas like logic, math, and managing finances. When it comes to being self-employed, baby boomers are leveraging those years of experience with accounting tools that manage their workloads and create invoices.
These kinds of tech tools also free up time — instead of putting in long hours towards a title change, only to be slighted for younger, flashier counterparts, baby boomers can focus on the things that matter.
Why is a Traditional Generation Seeking Such Untraditional Work?
A better work-life balance also makes work past the age of 62 more appealing for a few reasons. Many baby boomers pick up freelance gigs because they value the extra paychecks. Since Social Security isn’t always enough to make ends meet, freelance work — especially in the field they were trained in — provides stability for Americans who are struggling to live comfortably after retirement. Self-employment also keeps them busy, and after 30-40 years, work can be a hard habit to break. For many baby boomers, these flexible gigs are a way to stay in touch with colleagues and friends, maintain professional credentials, and follow changes in their industry. 61 percent of self-employed baby boomers say they want to continue working instead of fully retiring. Additionally, 45 percent of freelance millennials and 47 percent of Gen Xers say they will choose to work through retirement.
Back in Their Day, Every Week Was a “Bootcamp”
A determined work ethic permeates across self-employed professionals — 59 percent say they work harder as freelancers compared to traditional office jobs. But no one champions this mindset more than baby boomers — a generation driven by professional accomplishments and known to equate work with self-actualization. That kind of sense of self breeds a level of discipline millennials may struggle to grasp. For baby boomers, meeting hard deadlines and rigorous work schedules are not “special skills” — they’re the standard.
Baby Boomers: Fighting Ageism, One Freelance Job at a Time
Freelancers are using tech to get more jobs, keep them, and stay competitive. In doing so they’re shaping the entire American workplace — self-employed practices and 9-5 offices alike. Millennials are the popular face of the modern freelancer, but baby boomers are taking advantage of tools the younger generations created — and using them to topple discrimination while recharging their careers.