What’s a ‘Slashie’ and What Does It Mean for the Job Market?

Lawyer/chefs, police officer/personal trainers, mom/CEOs. Although these folks are doing different things, they have one overriding element in common. They are straddling multiple roles, deriving income from not one but several activities.

“Slashie.” Are you familiar with this word?

It made a cameo appearance in the movie Zoolander in 2001. The scene: Fabio, with glass statuette raised high, accepts the “Fabio Slashie Award” for “Best Actor ‘Slash’ Model.” He’s not just an actor or a model, but both—an actor/model.

Fast forward to 2007, when author Marci Alboher coined “slashie.” Her book One Person/Multiple Careers: A New Model for Work/Life Success asks: “Are you a ‘slash’? With technology giving us the ability to work from anywhere and the nine-to-five grind becoming a thing of the past, more and more people are building careers filled with slashes.” She cites: lawyer/chefs, police officer/personal trainers, mom/CEOs. Although these folks are doing different things, they have one overriding element in common. They are straddling multiple roles, deriving income from not one but several activities.

Profile of Slashies

MediaSilo reports the “slashie” label, “widely used abroad,” is making its way to this corner of the world. As such, it asks: “Will 2020 Kick Off the Decade of the Slashies?” To answer, it references a Bankrate survey, which shows 45% of U.S. labor force participants had a “gig outside their primary job.” An Upwork study confirms this trend from the other end. That is, about 60% of employers use flexible workers, such as freelancers and temps, who may pursue various routes and projects. As for the future, these hiring managers expect this number to increase 168% over the next 10 years.

This career style pertains mainly, but not exclusively, to Millennials, or those born in the 1980s through mid-90s. Again, Bankrate offers metrics: “40% of Millennials identify their side hustles as making up at least half of their monthly earnings.”

It makes sense. Millennials largely “want to define their own identities: to select and control how they are perceived.” Per HuffPost:. “As this generation has matured and begun careers, they have applied to their professional descriptions the same meticulous self-curation they perfected on their Instagram accounts.” Previous generations favored lifelong careers in one facet or organization, Millennials “hop around, both to fast track their ascent and to taste-test different companies and roles.”

The Big Picture

As the slashie way gains momentum, organizations need to respond accordingly. Flexibility is paramount; that pertains to structuring work as well as hiring, managing and optimizing this cohort.

Slashies thrive on creativity, and could get bored easily if you aren’t able to feed that need for creativity or variety in daily work.” Another angle is empowerment. HuffPost suggests: “Celebrate [slashies] for their side gigs, elevate their hobbies, and arm them with the tools to make their aspirations a reality.”

LinkedIn reports companies are adjusting. Since 2016, descriptions for jobs increased the use of “work flexibility” by 78%. That term itself is multifaceted. It may entail offering modified workdays and hours. “Workplace flexibility could be a tremendous help to not only the Slash Generation and their obligations but a healthy work/life balance for everyone.”

Not all hiring managers may initially view slashies as assets; instead they may question their loyalty. A suggestion is to embrace a strategic view based on their far-ranging capabilities. That, in turn, may inspire companies to tweak job titles in line with the likes of this group. The key: use a broad perspective in considering slashies and give them incentives.

Slashies are real and gaining ground. “Allowing these individuals to find meaning in their work and do what they enjoy is crucial to their workplace engagement and success in your organization.”

The Making of a Slashie

There are other reasons slashies have evolved:

Personal growth

A multidimensional job path enables a person to pursue interests. It offers “the possibility to manage different passions.” In contrast, a one-dimensional career “can be frustrating if [people] are not able to tap into all their talents.” And using free time to explore outlets has limitations, “Very often doing something as a hobby may not be enough.”

The modern answer to job insecurity

The Guardian suggests the 2007 recession created “the fastest increasing segment of workers in both the UK and the US, the portfolio careerist.” Rather than depending on one channel for revenue, slashies branch out as a defensive play. “When our entire income comes from a single position, it only takes one redundancy programme to drop us from comfort into terror. Compare that to the slasher with multiple sources of income: if she loses a job it doesn’t matter: she still has five more.”

Greater work-life balance

What Are ‘Slash’ Careers And Why You Need One” says this strategy promotes satisfaction and balance. “By adopting a slash career, a millennial who feels unfulfilled in a particular area, can work towards achieving balance in another area while still paying the bills and getting certain needs met.” Forbes contends: “The possibilities of slash career options are truly limitless.” They plug intellectual, emotional, spiritual and other gaps. Working in several spheres simultaneously or subsequently fosters well-being.

Enhanced marketability

Career advantages accompany being a slashie per Forbes. “Slash careers can make you more enticing to an employer.” Having a mix of specialties expands a person’s overall value. Slash careers “give you greater discipline, creativity, and a broader skills set. Companies are always looking for self-starters and innovators on their team to help them get to the next level, and people who have taken the initiative to develop a slash career are more likely to bring these qualities into their office.”

Additional income

It costs a lot to be a Millennial or member of any generation. But Forbes notes: “It’s no secret that millennials are struggling with money. They had higher rates of being late with mortgage payments, overdrawing checking accounts, and trouble with medical costs. A slash career might not help with the financial literacy aspect, but it could help pay some of those bills.” Moonlighting and side gigs can build cash reserves.

One Person/Multiple Careers referenced above sums it up. It casts slashies as “creative thinkers,” who “have discovered the antidote to boredom, burnout, job insecurity and many other workplace woes.”

Possible Potholes

There are advantages to the slashie style, but potential downsides too. They include time management challenges. In piecing together several jobs, slashies may exceed the standard 5 day/40 hour work week by not just a small margin. “For those with two or more jobs, scheduling time for self-care—seeing a move, taking a walk, drawing a bath—is even more important for mental and physical health.” Billing and accounting factor into the picture too. The slashie needs to keep careful records and stay on top of monies owed and received. “Having multiple streams of income means being responsible for tracking it and ensuring you get paid on time.”

More caveats include lack of security and consistent work. Slashies with several part-time gigs likely do not have traditional benefits that come along with full-time positions. “Chances are you have no holiday pay, no parental or sick leave, and perhaps not even any health insurance.” Slashies also are subject to highs and lows of demand, which “don’t always appear at convenient moments.” In short: “The reality is that you’re often at the behest of how the work is flowing.”

About the author. 
You name it, she covers it. That’s the can-do attitude Sherry M. Adler brings to the craft of writing. A polished marketing and communications professional, she has a passion for learning and the world at large. She uses it plus the power of words to inform and energize stakeholders of all kinds. And to show how all of this can make a difference, she calls her business WriteResults NY, LLC.