Goodbye Baby Boomers, Hello GenXers

It was recently reported in Time magazine that in 10 short years, more than 40% of the work force will be Independent Contractors. Not only that, genXers will officially be in charge. Being an IC and a genXer myself, I'm thrilled but more importantly, I'm here to remind you that the work force is changing so it's time to get your act together too.

What does this mean exactly, the transition from a baby boomer work era to a generation x work place? Analysts point to generation y as one of the biggest new determinants in the coming vocational shift. Not only are the millennials unlikely to follow in their parents' footsteps, they've grown up with and assimilated technology in a whole new way. Instead of paying your dues and moving up the ladder slowly, success will not be defined by rank or seniority, but rather by what you can contribute to a project (no matter where you are) and by getting what matters to you personally (like taking winters off to go snowboarding). Even though baby boomers and genXers have seen an increase in job-sharing at senior levels, the notion of collaborative decision-making involving employees scattered around the world will become pervasive.

Frankly it's how essential you are to an organization, according to Seth Godin of the same Time series: "The job of the future will have very little to do with processing words or numbers, nor will we need people to act as placeholders, errand runners or receptionists. Instead there's going to be a huge focus on finding the essential people and outsourcing the rest."

So are you essential? Start by re-writing your resume to indicate the value you've provided in projects (not just the duties you performed), and ask yourself if you can receive a file at the end of the day (from you're colleague in a different time zone) and make your essential contributions by the next virtual meeting. To be an independent contractor is to plan on socking away your own retirement and to be the provider of your own health care, notions that are unfamiliar to most cubicle dwellers. The fact is we're already seeing a more flexible, more freelance, and far less secure work world. GenXers have always wanted to take things into their own hands, now you have the opportunity to do so.

Read the Time article here; see also: co-working, elancer, farm out, homeshoring, laptop nomad, outsource, open source