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.

Greenville Facing Globalization

One word that we are hearing a lot now days is globalization. When I was growing up (Gah, I hated when my dad started a story / lecture with those words), the economic competitors were mainly seen as the north or other regions. A lot of the prejudice I saw was due to fear of people taking our local jobs. In the south, jobs were hard to come by.  Now the competition is from other countries.

Thomas Friedman’s World is Flat really opened my eyes. It made globalization less something to be feared and more a force to be dealt with. We will be very smart to work with it and not fight it because it is going to / has happened. Now our job is to use it to our advantage.

We raise a cry when a company outsources jobs to another country. I hate to see people lose jobs, but it gives us a chance to review our skills and hopefully find a better use for our skills.  But what do we call it when it is outsourced here? BMW, Michelin, several companies that I can not spell, have built major plants in our area though they originally started overseas. The same thing we condemn in local companies has been a huge benefit for the region, We have a great opportunity to sell our area and people as the great assets they are for any interested companies.  We have the creative and intellectual pool that any company can benefit from.

I was blown away when Friedman opened my eyes to the populations of some of our major competitors. The population of THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (thank you very much) was 309.9 million as of 2010. (So if you are one in a million, there are still 309 of you.)That is good enough to be the third largest population in the world. China’s population estimated for 2010, 1.3 BILLION. Over 4 times as large! No wonder they can find the cheap human capital that is useful in manufacturing.  India, which seems to be concentrating on developing as a customer service hub, had 1.1 BILLION.

So how should we look at this? Should we throw our hands up and stick our heads in the sand? The business and entrepreneurial spirit in this region will not let us do this. Plus, there are just too many great opportunities for those who look for them.  Instead of looking at the 2.4+ billion as competitors, though they are, look at them as potential opportunities / customers. How can we reach them? Cheap prices won’t do it. Quality? The American mystique? Making a reputation for our area (The Spirit of the Great Smokies)?

Our region already has been defined. How can we maximize it?

Also, as other economic markets grow, they will be better sources of customers. It should be our goal to help developing nations grow as that will help us grow in turn.

There are three concerns that these opening markets cause. The first is ethics. We are seeing that they often have a different set of rules or principles that they play by. Our desires for equality and rights are not universal. A huge problem that we have had with working with China and others is that they do not protect intellectual property when dealing with foreign entities. This is a basic business foundation to allowing companies to operate within your borders.

Second, human rights. We will not go into that here.

Okay, there are a lot more, Quality control. Finding lead and heavy metals in paint for baby cribs that were shipped to America is a huge cause for concern. Can we really check all the cargo containers that come through our ports?

The flattening of the world can be haunting, exciting, scary, isolating, and a whole host of other emotions. But it is something that our region will have to take hold of and use to continue to grow and be leaders in the world market.

(Populations from worldatlas.com for 2010)