By Marcella Bidinost
The Sydney Morning Herald
Instead of switching jobs, now might be the time to add one.
They used to call it moonlighting and didn’t that imply the covert. Now, thanks to a recently coined term, if your response to “what do you do?” has more than one answer, you could consider yourself in the rebranded land of the “slash career”.
A slash career isn’t new, yet it’s been given more cachet since US lawyer-turned-journalist/speaker/writer/career coach Marci Alboher (see the slashes?) launched her book One Person/Multiple Careers so people could feel less dilettante about their multiple work-life personalities and learn to embrace them instead.
It’s a big call but Alboher’s willing to make it: “Today’s most fulfilling lives,” she says, “are the ones filled with slashes.”
If barrister/chef or mum/chief executive don’t sound industrious enough, how about the blogger bearing the inventor/carpenter/agronomist/educator/analyst epithet, or the actor/writer/producer/comedian/designer/entrepreneur/landscaper. Oh, aren’t we all?
Slashing a career can come in whatever combinations: blending full-time with part-time or freelance work on the side, or combining part-time, contract or freelance work. You can mix the money-spinning with the passion (ideally they’d be both); the physical with the spiritual (bricklayer/tarot reader); healing with the law (nurse/police officer); the brains with the brawn (computer programmer/athlete).
With all the upskilling, retraining, shifting and re-evaluating of careers plus people’s healthy hankerings for personal fulfilment Alboher says using a slash to separate what you do is becoming more socially acceptable.
“Life is long, there’s enough time to evolve and incarnate,” she says.
But are there enough hours to wear all those hats at once or in succession, without diluting focus or creating, as one commentator put it, multiple interest disorder? How do we overcome overwork?
As always, shifting the sands starts with a move in mindset, changing how you define a career and making adjustments for a more satisfying life. Alboher suggests it’s possible to beat burnout, improve job diversity and opportunity and broaden scope by cutting back, even abandoning the “all the time” workplace.
Having a supportive employer helps and if they embrace possibilities such as telecommuting or flex time, even better.
“If you’re doing what you love, you’re bound to see an overlap between work and personal life,” she says. “And … having a slash career can come in handy when everyone is looking for extra income.”
Nicholas Ricciuti, managing director of Everybody’s Career Company, agrees: “Career decision-making is seen as a series of continuous choices across the lifespan, not a once-and-for-all event. Some of the reasons people seek change is because their initial career was not their own choice, their original aspirations were not met, or their current career is incongruent with changed personal values or interests.”
Leo Gregor, 33, is a tertiary teacher/massage therapist who spends four days a week educating classes of 40-plus students and two days a week in tranquil one-on-one massage settings.
“Having the two careers gives me variety, which is good because I can get bored easily. And they balance each other,” he says. “With massage being so physical, it complements teaching, which draws on so many other skills. Teaching is more financially viable for me. I get holidays, sick pay and the job is secure, whereas at the clinic I earn a percentage of the takings and if patients don’t turn up, I don’t get paid.”
Gregor ventured into massage a decade into his teaching career.
“I had a car accident while I was doing my teaching degree and had quite a bit of massage to help ease the pain,” he says. “I really respected massage work back then but I was already well into my
teaching studies and wanted to keep my teaching licence.
“Though I’m more at ease with having more than one job title, I have worried a little about the ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ tag. I’m dedicated to both jobs but, next to people who work full-time or have a sole career focus, I’ve questioned whether I’m keeping up.”
Still, even though his two jobs amount to more than a full-time week, Gregor is glad he added another a string to his bow. “I also just a bought a house this year, so I’m happy for the extra money.”
Psychologist/reiki practitioner/kinesiologist Renee Melges established her complementary professions 12, seven and five years ago respectively.
“With psychology, I was coming across a minority of clients who weren’t able to shift through their issues with just the counselling models,” she says.
“I’ve always been extremely determined to help people help themselves, so I started exploring other disciplines, first out of curiosity and soon realising how much they could support my practice.
“I don’t use all three disciplines with everyone and probably spend 60 per cent of my time practising kinesiology and 40 per cent counselling, though there is a lot of overlap.”