Source: Jonnelle Marte
From Leonardo da Vinci to Jay-Z, history’s great Renaissance men have always needed something besides multiple talents: a lot of money.
Given the still shaky job market, many Americans would like to dabble in a variety of fields. But as today’s disappointing jobs report shows, many are struggling to land even one job: employers only added 88,000 jobs in March, less than half of the 200,000 economists were expecting. Career experts say that unlike Jay-Z — who made the transition this week from hip-hop mogul to sports agent — most people aren’t well enough established in one vocation to simultaneously venture into another.
Before you can be a Renaissance man or woman with expertise, you need to build up a reputation in one space, they say. But achieving that kind of knowledge is also becoming more difficult at a time when people are changing jobs more frequently and often juggling multiple roles at once, experts say. “It used to be, you had 20 or 30 years to set yourself apart,” says Rachel Weingarten, a marketing and personal brand strategist based in New York City.” Now you have a microsecond to make yourself stand out.”
Workers change companies about every five years on average, and roughly 5% of employees are working multiple jobs at once, according to the most recent data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of course, unlike Jay-Z, these jobs may be more about just paying the bills than taking a stab at careers as a rapper, producer, actor and minority owner of a sports team.
The median tenure at one job is shortest for younger workers ages 20 to 24, who change companies about once a year. Those ages 25 to 35 change jobs roughly every three years. Changing companies can have its upsides, giving workers a chance to sample different environments and move up the ladder more quickly, experts say, but if workers are changing roles frequently, they may not get to develop the skills or the resources to build a more permanent career path, Weingarten says.
Jay-Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter, made the move into sports agency well after he established himself as an artist, not at the same time while he was trying to build up his brand, says Matt Eventoff, a communication strategist based in Princeton, N.J. That gave him the means, the resources and the platform to build a reputation in another market, he says. “We all have things we are passionate about,” says Eventoff. “His example sends yet another message that it is possible to take those interests out on a grander scale — once you have established yourself in your niche.”
It also helped that he had a hand in the sports business — as a minority owner of the Brooklyn Nets — before he made the move into being a sports agent, says Weingarten. That brings up another tip for those hoping to try a number of trades: It helps to focus in on one topic, or at least use a stepping stone when entering a new field. Anthony Cirillo, an author, speaker, singer and consultant says he has been able to take on different roles because they are all related to the same subject: health care. Cirillo, an expert in aging and long-term care, who consults for hospitals and other health-care facilities, has written a book about long-term care and performs at senior centers, sometimes even tailoring the lyrics to the health-care topic he’s covering. “If it stays in a related, complementary area where everything feeds into everything else, I think it’s easier to be a Renaissance man,” says Cirillo. “You can go wide on a certain topic.”