Who Do You Listen To?

Too be successful, you have to start with good information. Good information for the local community is hard to find. This is hard to believe since we seem to be overwhelmed by noise, digital information and publications at every coffee shop. However, most of the information we get is national information or as deep as a bird bath. Even our local paper is half US News Today. For the local job seeker, you get rehash from CareerBuilder, One of the purposes I started this blog is to connect sources of information to people who are interested in furthering their businesses and careers.

One helpful source that I have found recently is the GSA Business that covers Greenville, Spartanburg, and Anderson. It comes out twice biweekly and concentrates, of course, on the local economy.

The last edition came out September 10.

One theme that I notice throughout the paper is the proliferation of new on engineering. Both USC (for this blog, USC is The Carolina Gamecocks) and Clemson. Both of these are having record numbers of freshman in their engineering programs. I like how USC let all the engineers have the same classes the first year and then they can decide where they want to specialize in. When I started Clemson, moons ago, I didn’t have a clue what I was getting into. I just knew I wanted to go to college. And blondes are cute. (Yes, I am shallow.)

I also liked the push that the colleges are giving to retaining the engineering students while in school and to keep them in South Carolina. Greenville has many selling points and that is why it is important that the schools have a presence downtown. The more people are involved in our community, the more likely they are to stay.

Rant warning: Our schools are having a great period of successful football squads. Clemson is coming off a championships season. USC is in the top ten and are primed to have a special season. We are nuts for our teams in normal years, this just adds to the fire. Each team is followed by dozens of blogs and reporters and kids who have not played a down is the talk on radio. We give all this attention to something that entertains us for just a few hours 14 times a week. Yet the people and programs involved in engineering labor in anonymity. Now I am not saying the need cheerleaders, bands, and chicken calls, but I am saying when you look at who will have more impact on your lives over their lifetime, our dollars, and a lot of them, may be supporting the wrong programs. Rant Over.

Attention engineering students, the list of engineering firms that GSA has is worth the price of admission.

Another source of local information is Ten At the Top. Ten At the Top was started to increase collaboration with the ten counties in the region. Their goal is to gather information and make successful connections to help people throughout the region.

Greenville has a committed business community and people who are willing to help others reach their goals.  I hope you will find these sources of information helpful. Please let me know if you have a source of information that you have find useful.

Carpe Diem

In the last post we explored some situations that many of us are finding ourselves. One group that I feel that is often overlooked is those who are working in jobs that are either part time or have become complacent where they are. If there are no jobs, then I will just stay here and make the most out of it.

One article I read today talked about how the average income of the middle class has come to a halt and even retreated for the past decade. We do not have time to wait for a better economy, We have to develop ourselves now. So what does this mean? What are some steps that you can do now to be prepared for the right time?

First, realize that people are starting new jobs and changing careers everyday even in this economy. But Tim, the news / papers /TV / Fox News all say that there are no jobs. Each month 4 million new jobs are started. Yes, it is more competitive but there are jobs out there. And the great news is you only need one.

Then, decide what you want to do. I worked with many people who wanted to get out of manufacturing and get into healthcare, the jobs won’t be shipped to China and it looks easy. After taking training, we had one lady say she couldn’t do CNA because she hated touching other people. A waste of time and money.

Do your research. What jobs are you qualified for, what skills could you use in another way that a company would pay for, is there training that will help you make the transistion?

Now get out there and talk to people. Network. Over 80% of the jobs that are filled are not advertized. I never fail to be surprised at how many people think they can job search solely by job boards. Less than 6% of jobs are found on job boards. Yes, I am talking Monster, Career Builder, Indeed and the other 400,000 job boards that are out there. They can be used to find leads, but it is still meeting and speaking with the right people.

Get on LinkedIn. But Tim, you just said not to get on the internet. No, I said job boards. LinkedIn is a great way to stay in touch with former coworker, classmatess and friends. Your profile is often one way that a prospective company will get to know about you. Be sure to put your picture on it, a headshot. It is a social network after all, professional but social.  To other tools that LinkedIn gives you are groups and following companies. Groups are great because you get to follow poeple in your field, make connections and show your knowledge.

Update your résumé. Make it current and up to date. Ditch the objective, your hobbies, and make it suitable to modern tracking systems and to compete with the 300 other résumés they will get.

If you are changing careers, volunteer or find contract work. But Tim, I am working. I don’t have time to volunteer. Volunteering can be only a couple of hours a week. Ask your present employer if you can crosstrain. Often they can be a great source of moving into other fields and developing new skills.

I do believe that companies are doing less training of employees today, but that does not mean you cannot be the exception.

The main thing is to take ownership of you. I am reading a book called The Start-up of You by Reid Hoffman, the cofounder of LinkedIn. You take the reins and guide your wagon to where you want to go.

Prepare Yourself for the Next Step

Last week, I spoke to a gentleman who had been laid off from a job he had worked at for over 15 years.  He was like many people who I have spoken with who know that the economy is going through a seismic shift but thought he was safe and that it would not reach him. He either thought that he would retire before it touched him or the company would protect him because he was very valuable. Many people who are finding themselves in this predicament have been exemplary employees and often sacrificed for the company.  Now they have to live with the fact that the company can continue.

Now he found himself out of work, adrift, without purpose. Totally unprepared.

I have spoken to people who after being unemployed for months still were in shock. When I went through this I was surprised to see that you do go through the grieving process. But it is not from step 1 to step 2, you may cycle back through the process. Anger was the emotion that surprised me when it came back. My wife was telling me what we needed from the grocery store and I began to get angry. At a grocery list? No, I was still hurting from my lay off.

Men have a reputation for getting their identity from their work, but I have found that women will often take ownership of their job, especially the relationships they have with their coworkers or clients.  One lady was talking about how unfair it was to be let go when she often worked overtime and Saturdays without pay. It was what she made her priority.  Even though the company never asked her.

When a person loses their job unexpectedly, it may take a while for them to be able to see how they can come out of it. With unemployment rates over 8 percent, and holding, this is an all too familiar situation.

I am one who believes that the economy is going to improve. I also believe that it is up to each one of us to take ownership of our own careers. To me this is very empowering. The polls tell us that the majority of workers are not satisfied in their jobs. I believe that for those with jobs, now is the time for them to look at themselves and see what they want to be: do they want to stay in the same field, change fields, advance, or step back to a less stressful role.

When I came out of college, finally, I wanted to know what God’s plan was for me. I felt like it was going to be like a drag strip. Once you discover the secret code, it would lead you directly to a life of prosperity and fulfillment. For some people this works. But for most of us, life is more like a maze with many possibilities to get to the goal.

Statistically, Americans average 6 careers changes in their lifetime. Not job changes but career.  Changing jobs have become a common experience. It is even more popular among the millennial generation.

So is now a good time to look for a job? Instead of focus on job searching and job security, we should focus on career development. No matter where you are on the career ladder, you should be developing and defining yourself for where you want to be. Many people look back at their careers with regret because they did not do more, maybe follow a passion. Why not? Is this you?

 

I encourage you to look at yourself and determine where you want to be. Then determine how to get there. The next post will include some tips in making you the person you want to become.