Career: Is Crowdsourcing the Next Evolution of Work?

The new economy involves crowdsourcing, and you need to consider how it might figure in your career.

Not too long ago, the principal at my son's elementary school was tapped for a school district position. Of course, the school needs a new principal. One of the recent posts on a Facebook page associated with the school included this message:

Crowdsourcing

This candidate decided to use crowdsourcing as a way to complete her application (following the ellipsis, there is a link to a survey from Survey Monkey). Rather than come up with her own ideas of changes to the school entirely from scratch, she decided to go to the community at the elementary, and get answers that way. Of course she can tailor her response, culling the best answers, and choosing how to present them in her own words. It's an interesting way to get personal, specific knowledge about the elementary's community so that she appears insightful and ideal for the job.

With technology advancing, and with so many people connected to the Internet, it's possible to use the “wisdom of the crowds” to get ahead, whether it's in finances or in your career.

Could Your Job Be In Danger from Crowdsourcing?

You do need to pay attention to the crowdsourcing trend, since it could impact the workplace as we know it.

Cracked.com recently posted a video that addresses crowdsourcing (content advisory, because it's Cracked):

 

It's funny, but there is also a point. As an online writer, I see this quite a bit. Journalists, media web sites, and others ask for help writing stories. I've even seen it for books. This is a way to get personal content, often of reasonable quality, from a variety of sources. In fact, I provided some of my own story for?[easyazon_link asin=”1594632162″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”moneyseed-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”]Farnoosh Torabi's new book[/easyazon_link]

When I provide information for a book like that, or offer tips for a story, I'm not getting compensated in straight dollar terms. And I'm not the only one willing to share what I know in exchange for credibility as an expert or higher visibility. (Crowdsourcing is different from being interviewed for a story.)

In?a world where you need to be a brand, it can make sense to show your expertise and your value as a thought leader — especially since you are likely to have several jobs over a lifetime. No matter your career, you need to make sure that you make yourself relevant. This is true whether you want to run your own home business, become a consultant, or show that you are valuable to a company. (Although you should make sure that you follow your company's media guidelines before answering crowdsourcing requests.)

Crowdsourcing your career

The other issue you have to be concerned about is what happens when your job can be crowdsourced. Just as there are plenty of people willing to help with mapping the ocean floor, or digitizing old information formats, there might be someone willing to help do your job for free. If an employer can get 100 people to spend 10 minutes doing something during the day, that's an aggregate of 16 2/3 hours. That's more than twice your eight-hour day — and the employer didn't have to pay anyone.

Of course, not all jobs can be crowdsourced in this way. Your job might actually need to be done by?you. But it doesn't hurt to think ahead, and consider the possibilities. And you don't even have to go so far as to say crowdsourcing for free is the only option. Freelancers cost much less than many “regular” full-time workers; it's no surprise that we are moving toward an economy where freelancing, temping, and adjuncting are becoming normalized in a variety of industries.

Job security is a thing of the past. This isn't our parents' job economy (and it certainly isn't our grandparents'). You can't expect to stick with the same career forever, and you can't expect your employer to take care of you, even if you stick around for decades. This means you need to be ready to adapt to the economy.

Crowdsourcing provides great opportunities for the advancement of human knowledge. I love technology, and I love what it offers — even though my career?is made a little more challenging by crowdsourcing. (On the other hand, the rise of freelancing has been great for me, and a lot of what I do, specifically, hasn't been taken over by crowdsourcing.)

But you have to be ready. Be flexible, and consider ways that you can prove yourself useful in your career. You can take advantage of crowdsourcing to help advance your career, and you can also be ready with alternative plans, just in case.

2 thoughts on “Career: Is Crowdsourcing the Next Evolution of Work?”

  1. This post made me think of a few things…

    I was talking to a translator who said a company was working on getting the Davinci Code into Chinese. It was obviously taking a while and during that time someone crowdsourced a translation because they were sick of waiting and the publisher decided to use that version and the company lost the contract. Sadly in this instance I wouldn’t be surprised if crowdsourced translations are better than one’s done by an individual.

    In my industry site’s like 99 Designs crowd source design mock ups at no charge to the potential client. This has caused a nightmare because people now expect design concepts for nothing! Imagine if that happened with writing! You have to draft out a post and 100s of others do the same thing and then sit back and hope the client picks your draft to develop into the final piece, all unpaid until you win the job of course!

    On a more positive note crowdsourcing has been successfully used to do things like solve complex mathematical problems and even medical problems that may have a real benefit for us all!

    1. Miranda Marquit

      It’s a balance that we will need to find, I think. That balance between the good of humanity, but also the ability of individuals to earn a living.

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