UPDATED! As a member of Career Collective–a community of resume writers and career coaches, this article is one of many responses to Quintessential Careers “Job Action Day”. I encourage you to visit other members’ responses, which will be linked at the end of my article on November 2nd. Please follow our hashtag on Twitter: #careercollective.
There is no denying that the winds of economic change have had a significant impact on the job market. In order for college students and recent graduates to be successful in securing your careers, you will need to learn to effectively navigate these and future job market changes. Fortunately, there are career lessons we can garner from the characteristics of the wind itself.
Lesson 1: When faced with obstacles, wind finds a way
Last winter, I noticed that my basement was feeling particularly drafty. The culprit? Cold drafts were flowing through the electrical outlets! It’s really quite amazing how the wind always finds a way to navigate over, under, around, or even through obstacles, (large or small), that may stand in its path. More interesting still is that it won’t necessarily follow the exact same path every single time, even when faced with the same obstacles. When it comes to establishing your career, having the flexibility, like the wind, to adjust to a variety of obstacles is vital.
Practically speaking, that means being willing to combine non-traditional forms of work, such as interning, working part time, freelancing, contracting, temping, job sharing, telecommuting, and volunteering. On the surface, non-traditional forms of work may not appear to offer the type of stability that traditional full-time employment had offered in the past. But today, career stability is very much based on your ability to keep your skill set current, network effectively, and remain flexible. Non-traditional work cultivates all three. For example, if you are interested in marketing, a marketing firm is not your only option. Perhaps you could work virtually as a social media intern to keep your skill set honed, while also networking broadly within multiple industries. Simultaneously, you might work part time in the marketing department of a small non-profit organization, allowing you to expand your skill set, thus improving your flexibility within your field.
Adjusting effectively to obstacles also means being willing to consider different geographic locations, salary ranges, and industries. In doing so, you keep yourself competitive while still maintaining focus. For example, network with professionals from across the country – you will develop a much wider picture of your field and will stand to gain from the expertise of counterparts working all over the United States. Likewise, network with professionals in a variety of industries. If you are a computer science major, don’t pigeon hole yourself into just the technology industry. Network with professionals in the public sector, education, healthcare and non-profit where technical expertise is equally desired.
Lesson 2: Under the right circumstances, the wind does marvelous things
We’ve talked about the wind’s flexibility, but that’s not the only characteristic of the wind worth
Creating the right career circumstances also means avoiding people whom you do not trust, who are unprofessional or whose negativity pulls you down. Take a long hard look at the people with whom you interact, both in real life and online. For example, if there are individuals whose favorite past time is bad-mouthing their current employer or complaining about why they cannot find employment, you may want to begin to limit your interactions with these so-called friends. This may sound harsh, but the reality is that the career development process, especially in a difficult job market, can be challenging enough on its own. You do not need the extra burden of dealing with people who may be detrimental to you or your career. Remember that the wind, under the wrong circumstances, can lead to a major crash.
We’ve examined the analogy of the wind to learn ways to manage the changing job market, but there is one last characteristic of the wind that we cannot neglect – its potential for destruction. True, the job market has changed and you may feel overwhelmed by the obstacles ahead of you, but never allow yourself to take on those destructive characteristics of the wind that we’ve seen literally destroy homes and lives. As challenging as the job market may be, do not allow yourself to harm yourself or others as you traverse the ever-changing waters of the job market. Fortunately, unlike the wind, you have much more control over the way you react to your career development and job search. So, be flexible as you encounter obstacles; create optimal circumstances by ensuring you are well-supported; revel in the changes that have taken place and allow yourself to soar.
(Image courtesy of Family Day Kite Festival.)
Other posts from the Career Collective for Job Action Day
Meg Montford: Job Action Day: Finding Your “MOJO” After Layoff
Debra Wheatman: Plan B from outer space; or what do you have in case your first plan doesn’t work out?
Heather Mundell: Green Jobs – What They Are and How to Find Them
Erin Kennedy: Cutting Edge Job Search Blueprint
Hannah Morgan: Career Sherpa– Why Our Job Search Advice is the Same but Different http://hannahmorgan.typepad.com/hannah_morgan/2009/10/why-our-job-search-advice-is-the-same-but-different.html
Gayle Howard: The Enlightened Jobseeker
Laurie Berenson: Making lemonade out of lemons: Turn unemployment into entrepreneurship
Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter: You Can Thrive In, Not Just Survive, an Economic Slogging
Rosalind Joffe: Preparedness: It’s Not Just for Boyscouts http://workingwithchronicillness.com/2009/10/preparedness-its-not-just-for-boy-scouts/
Rosa E. Vargas: Are You Evolving Into The In-Demand Professional of Tomorrow?
Dawn Bugni: Your network IS your net worth
Miriam Salpeter: Optimize your job hunt for today’s economy
GL Hoffman: The Life of An Entrepreneur: Is It for You?
Katharine Hansen: Job Action Day 09: His Resume Savvy Helped New Career Rise from Layoff Ashes
Martin Buckland: Job Search–The Key to Securing Your Future Career
Chandlee Bryan: Where the Green Jobs Are
Heather R. Huhman, Take Action: 10 Steps for Landing an Entry-Level Job
Barbara Safani: Where the Jobs Are 2009 and Beyond
J.T. O’Donnell: Actions that got people jobs in this recession