Layoffs: Are You a Job Search Dinosaur?

One definition of “dinosaur” is: A person or thing that is outdated or has become obsolete because of failure to adapt to changing circumstances. In today’s challenging economy and competitive job market, it’s probably the last term you want to have applied to you! If you haven’t kept up with industry changes, emerging technology and other trends affecting your career prospects, you could well find yourself on the layoff chopping-block and badly positioned to land your next job. While no one can anticipate and avoid all the possible gloomy scenarios, you can take some actions to enhance your position.

Lack of Up-to-Date Expertise in Your Job Field

I’ve hammered on this subject before, but I still run across job seekers who either don’t “get” it or for a variety of reasons (some valid, some not so much) just haven’t done anything about it. One potential advantage you have over newer candidates is the depth and breadth of real-life work experience you’ve accumulated and the contributions you’ve made to employers over that time. If you can appropriately articulate and showcase those contributions, you can get a leg up on your less-experienced competition.

However, that might not be enough to help you if you have let your development of skills and expertise lapse–because you didn’t think it was terribly important, thought you didn’t have enough time to devote to maintaining and increasing your expertise, or for some other reason. That’s likely to prove a costly mistake–a true error in judgment. In one sense, it resembles running in place while a group of more energetic and victory-hungry runners are barreling down on you from behind! Taking a brief rest-break sometimes makes sense, but the operative word here is “brief.” No serious job seeker or career-minded individual can afford to opt-out of the necessary skill maintenance and upgrading for long.

Layoffs and Your Income-Level Challenge

Another aspect of avoiding the job search dinosaur status involves a more daunting situation. As a recent CNN article titled “Get used to a life of layoffs” notes: “The tech job market is excellent for younger workers, but many of those who are laid off and over 35 will find the market less welcoming. They’re perceived as too expensive….Indeed, jettisoning the veterans is often the hidden agenda in mass layoffs. It’s no coincidence that many of the U.S. core engineering openings at HP have titles like Recent Graduate, Intern and Post Doc, all aimed at the younger crowd.”

The article goes on to note that you could find yourself displaced and sidelined for a very long time in your field (perhaps even permanently) because you are much more costly to employers than reasonably skilled younger job seekers. In addition, offshoring is still alive and well, and it continues to make inroads on employment opportunities in a variety of fields and industries. The hard truth might be that you will at some point face the necessity for making a change to a new field and/or industry. Since that in itself can be a challenge and you probably won’t be the only job seeker trying to succeed in doing it, you need to take as farsighted a view of the situation as you can and do your best to open up alternative possibilities that could work for you–before your back is against the wall and employment disaster looms.

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