A Job Market Filled With “Irrational Expectations”

A Job Market Filled With “Irrational Expectations”

Being in transition is tough so advice is often offered with a spoonful of sugar.  While well intentioned, however, I think that approach sends the wrong signal to those most in need of candor.

So, being as frank (and respectful) as I can, here’s the unvarnished truth.  This job market is filled with “irrational expectations.”  You cannot find a job today using job search strategies and techniques that were devised for yesterday’s workplace.  To put it more bluntly, you won’t find work—any work—in such a tough environment with a wimpy career. 

And sadly, that’s what a lot of people are bringing to their job search.  They haven’t kept their skills up-to-date.  Their ability to make a contribution commensurate with their experience has atrophied.  Even their network of contacts has all but withered away.

Historically, all of that didn’t matter much.  You could be laid off and, with little or no change in your credentials, hit the job search trail and in relatively short order, find another, similar (or even better) position.  Basically, we had a come-as-you-are job market. 

Well, that experience is now gone and it’s gone forever.  Why is that?  Remember the jobless recovery of the 2001 recession?  Well, this recession built on that development to create the “lessjobs” recovery.  When things start to get better, there will be fewer jobs—not more or even the same number—as there were in the recession.  Jobs aren’t being left open until things get better.  They’re being destroyed.

What does that mean for people in transition?  Now, you have to enter the job market in a very different way.  If you want to find employment in the new world of work, you have to fix your career first.  Or, at a minimum, you must be fixing it while you’re searching for a job.  But, the point is that you have to upgrade your capabilities and your credentials.  Whether you have 20 years in the workplace or 20 minutes.  From now on, you have to have a strong career if you want to conduct a strong job search. 

I know you don’t want to hear this.  I understand that you will probably want to shoot the messenger.  But, I’m trying to be as straight as I can with you.  You can no longer achieve success by looking for a job the old fashioned way.  That’s simply an “irrational expectation” in this recession, in the recovery that will follow it and beyond.  The world of work has changed.  Permanently.  And so must you.

Thanks for reading,
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  1. Peter: Thank you for telling it like it is. I have been getting your newsletters for the past 2 years and regularly circulate info from them.

    So I am hoping one of the next things you will write about is how to fix a wimpy career. Wishful thinking I know, but maybe they don’t see themselves as having a wimpy career…

  2. Hannah-

    Great post (and thanks for reading my newsletters)! Ironically, the next issue of that publication (due out Thursday) tackles exactly your topic: how do you transform a wimpy career into a powerful and rewarding one. The bad news is that it takes some effort and a dose of determination; the good news is that anyone–from first time job seekers to seasoned pros–can do it.