After more than two decades in the Executive Search
business, I have learned a lot about what goes into a
successful hire. I try to impart my knowledge to both hiring
managers and candidates. Nevertheless, at many job
interviews I find myself listening to questions that make me
cringe and answers that make me want to cry.
Now it's my turn to talk.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Cassettes and Your Future

Trying to assess the job market can be very confusing, given the conflicting news analysis and job data.  Washington is ecstatic that 163,000 jobs were created in July, yet the unemployment rate actually rose to 8.3%. Huh? 

If you have been seeking work for some time, don’t worry about the national job statistics or what George Stephanopoulos thinks.  Instead, you must focus on your life and finding an opportunity to earn the fuel that powers the economy of your family, a.k.a. a paycheck.

Let’s assume you have done everything right as far as resume preparation, target-marketing your credentials, and following up on every available opportunity.  But nothing good has happened.  What the….?  You are an industry expert; a technical genius in your field; a manager with a great history of success motivating professionals in your industry.  But what if there are no longer opportunities in that industry?  Remember the eight-track cassette manufacturing industry?  Probably not.   Is there a chance that your industry has gone the way of the eight-track cassette – temporarily or permanently?

The hard, cruel fact is: many jobs are forever gone, as are several industries - and I am not talking about off-shoring.  I am talking about diminished or flattened demand for a product or service that drives an industry. If you are in an industry that is no longer viable, it is time to face that fact and consider your options.  You have a decision to make regarding how to support yourself, and the sooner you make it the better you will be.  In some cases, your new course may require retraining and starting over.

I know of people who have been in some form of job search or underemployment for years.  Some have taken steps to learn new skills and or trades.  One very forward- thinking acquaintance left the IT field several years ago and completely changed his field of expertise.  He is now a physician’s assistant in the surgical suite.  This was a dramatic change that took a lot of studying and hard work.

But retooling does not have to entail learning the difference between a scalpel and a forceps.  It might mean a slight enhancement of your skills in word processing and/or spreadsheet manipulation. It might mean taking a temporary assignment that increases your skills, enabling you to qualify for a permanent job.  Or it could mean taking a course or two and getting licensed to perform a function in an area in which jobs still exist.  Based upon the weather this year, learning HVAC may be a reasonable tack. 

There are areas of the economy that are in hiring mode even today.  The barrier to entry is sometimes minimal.  Do some research to find out where the jobs are and how you can become qualified to do those jobs.  Be aware of your hard wiring.  Perhaps this is the perfect time to reload your career into something that you actually enjoy doing on a daily basis.

Retraining is not an overnight activity.  It will take some time.  You may have to take a lesser job in the interim as you reload your skills.  In the long run, your new skills may provide some financial opportunity and some personal satisfaction.

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