Georgina Guedes

Slashing the future job market

2012-07-19 12:54

Georgina Guedes

This week I heard a new term being used to describe the current generation of workers in the job market. Apparently, those will the skills to carry them successfully into the future workplace are now called slashers.

The name makes them sound a bit scary. While only the most literal-minded would actually assume that such professionals are possessed of sharp blades and a tendency to use them, the term does immediately bring to mind a kind of callous, cut-throat approach to the working day. Will nothing stop these slashers in their pursuit of world domination?

Fortunately for the professional landscape of the future, the true definition is far less sinister. Slashers are simply professionals with two strings to their bows. Separated by a slash. So someone could be a nutritionist “/” midwife or an actor “/” director. Geddit?

The slashing seems to take one of two forms. Either people have a double but complementary qualification or skills set – so they could be a copywriter/web designer, able to receive a brief for and execute a full website creation project. Or, I've seen a sign for a psychologist/psychic, who combines her professional training with her natural intuitive abilities to provide life advice.

The other manifestation of a slasher is one who works at a job that they are good at to bring in the cash, but pursue a love project in their spare time. For instance, I count among my circle of friends a management consultant/novelist and a journalist/singer.

Slashing a requirement

In the modern world where time is precious, clients and customers will appreciate being assisted or treated by the first type of slasher. It's great to brief only one person to get your website developed, or to be able to order cupcakes for your best friend's birthday from your wedding planner, or to pop in to your nutritionist and have your baby delivered while you wait.

I think that slashing is also becoming more and more of a requirement in the online world, where some level of technical understanding is required to back up any profession that is in some way executed on the internet. So you're seeing lots of journalist/social media experts or estate agent/web developers.

The second type of slashing is less about how well you do your business, and more to do with personal growth or satisfaction. There's an inherent cynicism (or reality) to this kind of slashing – acknowledging that few people are wholly satisfied by their careers and that to achieve balance, they need to simultaneously define themselves by another pursuit.

Both are a necessary shift in the old-school thinking that we should be able to identify that thing that we are good at and spend the rest of our lives making money out of it. Many career alternatives – especially creative endeavours – are risky, but there has always been a line of thinking that suggests that if you want to be truly happy, you need to sell your house and your car and go and live in a garret in Paris.

Have it all

On the other hand, slashers can have it all. They can have a highly-paid professional career, but also  find expression for their creative side. Or they can enjoy balancing the different aspects of two dovetailing career paths without fear of being called a Jack of all trades (“cough, master of none, ahem”). The only thing that slashers are short on is time.

Although, to take a longer-term view of it all, slashers do even have the time. As a species, humans are healthier and living for longer. Loads of discussions and strategising are taking place around the fact that retirements are now longer, but the age of retirement remains the same. From a purely financial point of view, many retired professionals are being forced to find a second career later in life. Slashers are making sure they've struck the balance a little earlier.

It's interesting how a single term can encapsulate the shift in thinking of an entire generation. As a professional writer for hire, my work list looks radically different from one week to the next. For years, I've tried to identify the one area I'd like to specialise in that would still prove lucrative. I can now embrace the diversity of my workload with a spring in my step and the term “slasher” emblazoned proudly on my lapel.

- Georgina Guedes is a freelance writer. You can follow @georginaguedes on Twitter.

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