At MBO Partners, we’re always looking for new information and insights on the independent consulting category. That’s why I announced earlier this week that we’re funding a proprietary study on “The State of Independence in America” that will release on Labor Day. Since the BLS (that’s the Bureau of Labor Statistics) isn’t able to project the sector for us, we’d like to try and come up with our own quantifiable data on the trends and opportunities.
During the week of June 20, as part of our rebranding and new site launch, I spend a lot of time in front of reporters from television, to the financial rags, to the new online media outlets, to the corporate management analysts, talking about the trends around independent consulting. I think I had strong insights to share (see our news room for more on the stories), but I came away with a big insight myself.
For the media today, it’s all about the Millennials. The reporters and commentators who watch and are at the cusp of changes in our society are incredibly curious about the trends, the economy and the rise of this 75-million-strong generation. Millennials are now entering the U.S. workforce with significant influence in both the social and economic sphere. From my conversations with reporters at Fortune, Kiplingers,Portfolio.com, WUSA TV, among others, I learned a lot about these bright, sensitive people born between 1980 and 2000. The story of the Millennial and this generation’s inclination to adopt new styles of work like independent consulting is in fact, the story of the future of work for us all.
At our own company, we have seen nearly a 250% jump in Millennials electing an independent career as either a freelancer or independent consultant just in the past two years. Here are some of the attributes of Millennials that consistently drive them to the freedom of an independent career:
Keeping it Interesting: Millennials are always seeking new things, new tasks, and new environments. Millennials hate boredom. They do not want to just watch the clock. They want to be engaged, active and make something happen. Working on a project-to-project basis keeps things interesting, and gives them opportunity to enjoy change and something new. (If you aren’t clued in to the concept of the “project economy by the way... do watch our video story to learn about the future of work.)
Give them a Challenge: Millennials love to be challenged. They are up for it. They can make it happen. They are entrepreneurial and not afraid to hunt for the right kind of project. Complacency is unacceptable. Sounds a lot like the many tremendous skilled and motivated professionals we serve every day at our independent business services firm -- high-earners and go-to experts who love the daily challenge of the client work they perform.
Juggling many things at once: Juggling is easy for Millennials; in fact, it’s a preferred way of life. As an Independent Professional, you need to juggle working on your client’s (or clients’) projects, while keeping your new business development pipeline filled, keeping yourself trained in your profession and of course, marketing to your community.
Working through technology: Whether it’s on the desk, in their hand, or in their ear, Millennials are just tuned up to take maximum advantage of technology to get things done. As an independent professional, you also need to take full advantage of the latest in technology to work from anywhere, anytime on just about any platform.
Natural at Collaboration: These young and dynamic professionals are not just comfortable working virtually in teams but they are also extremely proficient. They grew up online and used to virtual collaboration -- whether in networking or even gaming. Working across project teams, across various companies, around the globe, and keeping track of it all, is an invaluable skill to maximize the productivity and flexibility of the independent professional. For Millennials, these skills are already as natural as breathing.
Work Hard and Play Hard: This generation values both pleasure and purpose. They will get a lot done, very quickly, but they also need control of their life -- and to have fun. An independent career, if managed well, can provide any individual with the control, the purpose -- and also the time and resources -- to maximize enjoyment of not just a profession, but a whole life. In this context, it’s not surprising that Millennials are shying away from traditional corporate careers and looking to new, more fulfilling independent career paths instead.
The independent millennial…. An interesting thought has become, at least for us, a documented reality.
Stay tuned for more on this and other trends when we release our study this Labor Day.