Job Trends and Your Career Success

career the way indicated by compass

Get out your crystal ball or your trusty compass! What job trends already here or coming down the road could affect your career success? And what should you do to move forward in the right direction? If you’re not sure, join the club. You have lots of company.

Job Trends: Change and Uncertainty

career the way indicated by compassUnfortunately, almost nothing stands still and remains predictable over long periods of time. Job trends certainly don’t. Technology plays a big role, of course, but you might also find yourself facing changes in your career path that aren’t solely related to technology. Regardless, you can pretty much bet that if you aren’t already seeing changes in your situation, you probably will before all is said and done.

So how do you anticipate–prepare–cope?

I recently read an article from Pew Research titled “The State of American Jobs”  that said major workplace changes are “prodding many workers to think about lifetime commitments to retraining and upgrading their skills.” In a way, that’s not a new thought. I and many of my professional colleagues who coach clients to take charge of their career management have been preaching this for years, and we’re not the only ones. Now, however, the advice has taken on even stronger weight.

The above-mentioned article references the fact that the number of people in fields requiring above-average education, training and experience  increased 68% from 1980 to 2015 while those requiring below-average levels only increased 31%. You might have already realized that this was happening but not how much.

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Anticipating change and the acceleration of it can be tricky at best. So how do you do it? For one thing, you might want to adopt an entrepreneurial outlook. Take nothing for granted. Step outside the tried-and-true to see your situation differently. Be ready to act–or sometimes react–quickly and flexibly. Assume that you’re going to need to keep learning for the rest of your working life.

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Workplace Diversity – What Does It Mean to You?

Empower Authority Enable Permission Power Concept

With the immigration-related political turmoil going on in the United States today–and many areas of the world, for that matter–the workplace is seeing some upheaval already, with the distinct possibility that it will increase over time. How does this affect your career, your job prospects, and the work environments you might encounter?

Obviously, this is a touchy subject, and I’m not going to go into the depths of the controversial aspects of it. However, I do want to encourage you to think seriously about workplace diversity and what it might mean to you, now and in the future.

What Does Workplace Diversity Look Like?

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An obvious fact is that your co-workers, bosses, and subordinates are likely to present widely different appearances–including differences in age, sex, and national origin.

If you have challenges around these obvious differences, you have your “work” cut out for you, in the sense of figuring out how you’re going to work effectively with people who seem so unlike you. Failure to identify a realistic approach to dealing with these situations could create roadblocks in your path to career success.

Of course, outward appearance represents only a fraction of the differences you could encounter as a factor of workplace diversity. Some of them are highly controversial; others not quite as much. Regardless of that, you still need to develop an appropriate behavior that marks you as a professional in every respect. You have to work with these individuals–and they have to work with you! That’s right; it’s not all a one-way street. You’re not the only one who might have adjustments to make.

How Can You Deal With Workplace Diversity?

We’ve often been told that it’s important to exhibit tolerance of others’ differences from us. If you view tolerance (as some people do) as looking at those differences with a somewhat condescending attitude, it probably doesn’t help the situation much. However, one definition of tolerance says: “willingness to accept behavior and beliefs that are different from your own, even if you disagree with or disapprove of them.”

Evidence of that definition seems in short supply today. I believe that failure to work on incorporating it into your work atmosphere could have major consequences, both for your own professional success and on a larger scale.

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Job Search – Got a Foolproof Plan?

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Have you ever had a job search go exactly as planned from start to finish? Seriously? In case my question wasn’t clear, I don’t mean in your dreams but in real life! In fact, if you ever did have that experience, I’d love to hear about it, because I don’t think I’ve ever run into someone who could make that claim truthfully.

Job Search Speed Bumps & Roadblocks

Road closedSince we recently entered a new year, with what feels like an unusually high level of uncertainty on many fronts, this subject has been on my mind a lot.

No matter how carefully you plan, factors outside your control can turn things upside down in a hurry. As I’ve probably noted before, Scottish poet Robert Burns held a pragmatic view of planning: “The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men Gang aft agley.”

What are some of the job search speed bumps and roadblocks you might encounter? Here’s just a short sample list:

  1.  A new US president takes office and enacts policies that could affect the hiring practices of many organizations. If your target employers face challenges because of this change, will it hamper your job search?
  2. The industry you’re in suddenly gets hit with devastating physical events, such as a natural or man-made disaster, that put a serious crimp in employment prospects. Your job search plan might not have taken that possibility into account.
  3. Our economy takes a sharp and prolonged dip that eats a big hole in the savings you had set aside to help keep you going while you look for a new job. What does your plan have to say about that?

This isn’t meant to suggest that you shouldn’t plan your job search. Far from it! Just be aware that you can’t expect everything to go according to your initial plan.

You can–and should–try to anticipate foreseeable events and put a contingency plan in place as backup in case something you couldn’t foresee crops up. Just don’t fool yourself into thinking that extra effort is a waste of time because “what could possibly go wrong?” (You might not like the answer to that question!)

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Too Much Work? What to Do?

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Unless you’re Superman or Wonder Woman, a workload overload situation could drive you to distraction–or worse! Since we’ve just started a new year, this might be a great time to evaluate what your work situation is and whether the workload is sustainable through the year ahead.

Overwhelmed and No End in Sightorganized-career-planning

When your over-the-top workload has you spinning in circles or hyperventilating from stress, with no glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, time is of the essence. You need to do a reality check ASAP to determine if (1) there’s a source of temporary relief you can tap into or (2) you need to exchange your work environment for a new (better) job, pronto.

Failure to take action to clarify your options and set something constructive in motion could cost you dearly, both in terms of your overall career success and in possibly severe physical or emotional impact. It’s hard to imagine any scenario in which a company or a job justifies those consequences.

Job Dilemma: Stay or Go

Executive-job-search-frustationTrying to determine whether staying put or leaving for hopefully greener pastures is your best choice can be a challenging exercise. Rarely is it a really cut-and-dried situation, with a lot of bad on the “staying” side and a lot of good on the “leaving” side.

You need to take as objective a view as possible of the pros and cons–and consult people in your network or elsewhere who are less closely involved and can potentially help you reach a practical solution.

If you determine that you can’t turn around the situation you’re in, for whatever reason, you will most likely wind up deciding that moving on to a new job somewhere else is your best–maybe your only–option. Before you get there, though, you might go through the anguish of hating to leave (if some elements of your current job are desirable), dreading the actual process of orchestrating a departure (landing a new job, etc.), and so on.

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Career Decisions: The Road Not Taken

Career decision

Career decisions can cause you a lot of soul-searching and make you second-guess the choice you decide on after you’ve committed to it. How you choose to handle that dilemma is up to you, of course, but it made me think of a poem by Robert Frost, “The Road Not Taken”:Career decision

“I shall be telling this with a sigh / Somewhere ages and ages hence: / Two roads diverged in a wood, and I– / I took the one less traveled by, / And that has made all the difference.”

Risky Career Decisions

You can play it safe with your career decisions and still sometimes encounter unexpected challenges. On the other hand, you can make a career decision that you know in advance carries a substantial element of risk. In such cases, your best bet is usually to dig deeply enough to identify the most likely risks and take steps to avoid or mitigate them. Alternatively, you might conclude that the risk-reward balance leans too heavily toward risk and settle on a more conservative course of action.

As we stand at the start of a new year, a wide assortment of possibilities might lie ahead. Some of those you won’t be able to control, but others you will be able to or at least will see the potential for doing so. If you’re like me, you won’t have a high tolerance for risk and might believe that you need to make a “safer” choice. (On the other hand, I made the decision 20+ years ago to start my resume writing/career coaching business as an independent professional, which wasn’t exactly a safe choice, and I’m still happily doing it!)

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Time to Re-Think Your Job Search

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While many people are probably anticipating enjoyment of New Year’s eve celebrations and possibly their favorite sporting or other events associated with New Year’s day, you might be thinking instead of your upcoming job search–and wishing you could just relax and enjoy the holidays!colorful balloons isolated on white

If you’ve so far neglected to get a December head-start on your job search, it’s not necessarily too late. Worst case, you can at least prepare to leap off the starting-block on January 2, while your competitors are (you hope) still recovering from the celebrations. I’d like to share a few thoughts about practical steps you can take in that direction.

Re-evaluate Your 2016 Goals

New year’s resolutions have amassed a notorious record for being broken soon after being made. If you haven’t yet done so, take a look back at your 2016 goals–particularly those related to your job and career management status. Did you achieve them 100%? If so, you probably deserve a big pat on the back! If not, how well or poorly did you do? Did you fail to assign milestones or deadlines for your goals?

Goals are dreams with deadlinesAnother point to consider is whether your career goals for the year were either too ambitious (maybe even wildly unrealistic) or too modest (easy to achieve, but not generating a big impact on your career success this year). For instance, you might have overlooked the fact that other people (family members, etc.) would have a stake in your choices, one way or another. That misstep might have prevented you from accomplishing a particular goal.

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Career Success and Peace on Earth – An Unlikely Combo?

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Career success is a worthwhile goal when pursued in the right way and for the right reasons. If you keep in mind that you can achieve it while still respecting the rights and needs of others, you’ll almost certainly find the journey more personally and professionally satisfying. If you’re planning a job search to start the new year off with a bang, you can still take a few minutes to think about the kinds of situations others might be experiencing that are more problematic.

Make a Difference

Rather than do a typical blog post today, I’m looking forward to the week ahead and thinking, “What can I do to make a difference during this time when we seem to be experiencing so much upheaval, on so many levels and in so many areas of life (metaphorically and geographically)? I’m only one person. Does anything I do as an individual make that much difference?”

You might be asking yourself those questions, too. Here’s one way to look at it: If you extend a helping hand or other encouragement to a colleague who seems to be struggling in some way, won’t that make a difference to that person? You don’t even have to mortgage your house to do it!

So as I keep my eyes and ears open for opportunities to make a difference to someone else in the days ahead, I encourage you to do the same. Who knows what kind of impact our individual but collective efforts might have?!

To close, I’d like to share part of the lyrics from a 1955 song by Jill Jackson Miller and Sy Miller:

Let there be peace on earth

And let it begin with me;

Let there be peace on earth,

The peace that was meant to be.

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Is Your Resume DOA (Dead On Arrival)?

Young woman applying for a job and her bored interviewer

If you “Google” the phrase “resumes are dead,” you’ll see a long list of items covering a wide range of views on the subject. More to the point, I think, is the question, “Is your resume DOA (dead on arrival)?”

Why? Experience tells me that resumes in one form or another are likely to be around for quite a while yet, but that doesn’t matter if yours is lifeless when an employer sees it!

Resumes Not Worth the Paper They’re On

Young woman applying for a job and her bored interviewerOver the years several people have supposedly said something like “a verbal contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on” (Samuel Goldwyn). Assuming he was actually referring to an oral contract (that is, not words on paper), this makes a convoluted kind of sense!

What does this have to do with your resume? If your resume doesn’t communicate the critical message you need to share with prospective employers–your potential value to them–it’s essentially worthless for your job search. If it bores the reader, you’re done before you start. You won’t reach first base, much less hit a home run.

One important point: Your resume is not supposed to provide exhaustive detail about your work experience for the past 20 years or more. It needs to do much more than that, but in fewer words–and it needs to do it from the get-go.

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