Are you working a regular job while you plan for opening your own business? Do you come home after a full day of work and put in another 6 hours into the book you just have to publish or the blog you want to have syndicated? You are not alone, Mujer. Throughout my career, I’ve had to carry several business cards all at the same time! One friend called it the “Latina Shuffle”!
In the past, some may have thought of this as just creating options in case your current job fell apart. Today it’s called the parallel career. It is no surprise many young, educated and smart Latinas are thinking carefully about creating career options. Many saw how difficult their parent’s lives may have been during decades of corporate downsizing and restructuring and have vowed never to be vulnerable to the whims of an employer. For others it is simply about doing all the things we love to do, regardless of whether one job is enough. Carrying two or three business cards is the only way to fully explore all those passions. Latinas have a strong entrepreneurial spirit—in fact we are the fastest growing group of small business owners in the US.
If you are working two gigs or creating an alternative career during your spare time, how do you describe your professional life to others?
It’s important to manage your many professional identities so that future clients, collaborators, and yes, your future boss can understand your career interests. If not, you can confuse others about what your interests may be and send a message that you are scattered, tentative or unfocused. For example, if you find yourself saying, “I’m a store manager but that’s just my “day job”, my real passion is creating apps for smartphones.” Be careful! This isn’t sending the right message and the world is so small, you never know who might hear your comment. Unless you have saved enough to walk away from your “day job” and support yourself for a solid six months, don’t risk losing your job over your parallel career before you’re ready to launch. Even more important, don’t send a message to a potential software developer that your software endeavor may be a hobby. Instead the best statement you can make is one that you tailor to each of your target audiences. If you were speaking to a developer about your new app, speak only about your interest in developing products that address a specific need. There is no reason for you to explain your other work. Focus on convincing the developer to work with you because of your enthusiasm about software development. They don’t have to know everything there is to know about you.
In order to keep your parallel careers in order, it is important to be clear about how you use your social media. Use LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ with different audiences in mind. Use different Twitter handles to tweet about the different issues you care about with careful thought about the audience you want to attract. As you attend business networking events, plan ahead to determine what you want to achieve at that event. It is not always to your advantage to tell everyone about everything you are doing all at once. Yes, I have been known to overwhelm innocent bystanders right after saying “hello”! Tell me about your parallel career at Latina Cubicle Confidential™ or join me live at the next LatinaVIDA™