Here, Phoebe Dodds takes a look at the new type of worker, the multi-hyphenate, and explores why this trend is so popular with millennials.

Ever struggled to describe your job title in just a couple of words? Maybe you’ve experienced trying to wrestle what you do professionally into your restrictive 150-character Instagram bio. And don’t even get me started on explaining your occupation to your grandparents. If every time someone asks what you do for a living, you reply with a short story, chances are you’re a multi-hyphenate. 

The new breed of worker

Emma Gannon’s book The Multi-Hyphen Method sprung into bookshelves and onto Instagram feeds everywhere at the start of 2018, starting an avalanche of discussions and articles about living the multi-hyphenate lifestyle. Featuring a bright yellow jacket, the book is hard to miss, which is just as well, because its message encompasses the new job trend that’s taking over a generation.

DJ/ model/ fashion designer combinations have been around for years – just think of Alexa Chung, Pixie Geldof and Hannah Bronfman. But recently, the multi-hyphenate world has been democratised, and we can all get involved. 

The crux of Gannon’s book is that we all have it within ourselves to “work less and create more”, in the meantime living “more fulfilled and financially healthy lives.” Sounds promising, right?

In today’s world, technology allows us to work from anywhere and at any time, and collaborate with clients all over the world. In practical terms, this essentially means that anyone with access to a laptop can become a multi-hyphenate. Gannon’s book provides practical advice on how you can make this dream a reality, including building your own micro-audience, offering a USP, and using your energy wisely. 

Hear it first-hand

I’m in my mid-20s and currently based in Amsterdam, and I’m surrounded by multi-hyphenate friends. One girl makes podcasts for a local cinema, is a successful singer, and also writes for national publications. Another is a public speaker, film maker, journalist and soon-to-be author.

I myself am a writer and columnist focusing on entrepreneurship, and I also own a business and run the Amsterdam chapter of Future Girl Corp, an organisation providing future female CEOs with the skills they need to succeed. To get some insights into this new way of working, I chatted to two multi-hyphenates about their experiences. 

Awura Abena runs the Creative Women Collective, an organisation that helps women in the creative industries excel through online and offline resources, and the Creative Women Agency, which is pretty self-explanatory. As well as being an entrepreneur and community-builder for her businesses, Awura is a sought-after speaker in the Netherlands, and also runs her own podcast.

Awura thinks the digital world is partly the reason why so many of us are becoming multi-hyphenates. “It’s also because of our search for purpose through our work. We explore different jobs until everything clicks,” she adds. 

We all have it within ourselves to work less and create more. Click To Tweet

Anne-Charlotte Moreau is a French art director and designer, and also runs her own podcast. Rather than thinking of herself as a multi-hyphenate, Anne-Charlotte says she has one job with many different aspects. That’s because all of the different strings to her bow have the same purpose: “my goal for all of my ‘jobs’ is to find a visual solution to a problem,” she explains.

The appeal for both Anne-Charlotte and Awura is the variety of the multi-hyphenate lifestyle. Awura enjoys being able to hone different skills through her various projects, while Anne-Charlotte says that “I get bored pretty fast, so working on different projects all the time helps me to stay happy and enthusiastic about my professional life. New challenges, new perspectives.”

Expert advice

Like the sound of the multi-hyphenate lifestyle and want to follow in Anne-Charlotte and Awura’s footsteps? This is Awura’s top tip: “embrace all of your interests, one after another. You’ll discover your personal top three [that you enjoy the most], and explore the rest as hobbies.”

Anne-Charlotte echoes this and says it’s all about routine. “The trick when you like doing a lot of stuff is to stay afloat. Sometimes you have to give up some of the things to do in order to be able to better concentrate on others. You can’t do everything, so pay someone else to work on your taxes if you don’t like doing that, so you can spend more time doing what you’re really good at instead,” she advises.

As Emma Gannon points out, if you want to dip your toes into the multi-hyphenate lifestyle, there’s no need to quit your job right away. Start out by developing a side-hustle, chatting to other multi-hyphenates in your circle, and working out the steps you’d need to take to join this new way of working. And remember, if you try it and it doesn’t work out, you can always return to full-time work knowing you gave it your all.  

Are you multi-hyphenate? Tweet us what you do and maybe we could feature you in our next article!

Phoebe Dodds

Phoebe is a project manager/ freelance writer/ content marketing consultant who lives in Amsterdam. She’s British by passport, but grew up hopping between European cities with her family before settling in the Netherlands. Phoebe has a Master’s degree in Entrepreneurship, and has previously written for publications like the Huffington Post, the Guardian, and the Next Web. Hobbies include learning Japanese, compulsively checking the news, and pretending she’s a Kardashian.

1 Comment
  1. Hi Phoebe, great article! It certainly does seem like millennials are seeking more fulfilment and are therefore doing a variety of things.
    Interesting perspective on this!

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