I can’t come up with interesting work-related content as much as I’d like. There are others in the industry that have interesting things to say about managing ones career. So I invited one such person, Chris Russell, to write a guest post. Chris is founder and president of allcountyjobs.com and blogs at secretsofthejobhunt.com.
By that I mean are you an indispensable member of the team that would be lost without you? If you answered yes, then I congratulate you on your status. If you answered no, consider reading the rest of this post.
There is an important lesson for jobseekers in Thomas Friedman’s book The World is Flat. He talks about how American workers need to make themselves “untouchable” so that they are always in demand. Consider this passage;
“The way I like to think about this for our society as a whole is that every person should figure out how to make himself or herself into an untouchable. That’s right. When the world goes flat, the caste system gets turned upside down. In India untouchables may be the lowest social class, but in a flat world everyone one should want to be an untouchable. Untouchables, in my lexicon, are people whose jobs cannot be outsourced.”
He also has a great line that every parent should be telling their kids;
“My advice to them in this flat world is very brief and blunt: Girls, when I was growing up, my parents used to say to me, Tom, finish your dinner–people in India and China are starving. My advice to you is: Girls finish your homework–people in China and India are starving for your jobs.”
The bottom line for job seekers is that you need to take responsibility for your own career. You must constantly try and better yourself by learning new skills. Adaptability is the key. Those who can adapt and adjust to new challenges and situations will be the ones who always have job security.
I am reminded of my own career path as an example of ‘adaptability’. I used to work for the IT advisory firm, Gartner, Inc. At age 27, I joined them as a Research Associate where I assisted their Analysts and clients. After a year and a half in that job I wanted to do something else so I joined the Help Desk in their IT dept. I didn’t know a lot about computers but I was determined to do it. I learned quickly and after 6 months I was the senior member of the group (everyone I started with quit or moved laterally). During my year at the Help Desk I developed a curiosity for the web and I convinced their web site manager to let me work for him as a Web Author. There I learned HTML and my love affair with the web began.
Those early jobs at Gartner gave me the foundation for my career that has carried me to where I am today. Self-employed with my own ‘stable’ internet business.
By constantly learning and seeking new opportunities I developed new skills that enabled my career path. Today’s job seeker needs to learn ‘how to learn’ so that each can be assured their skills will always be in demand.
Note from Heather: Another book for those interested in competing in the “flat” economy: Daniel Pink’s ‘A Whole New Mind”. I am reading it now and it discussed how those that are able to develop right-brain directed thinking will be more successful in the new economy. Interesting stuff.