Feature: How to Prevent a Wall Street Meltdown in Your Career

Feature: How to Prevent a Wall Street Meltdown in Your Career

Feature: How to Prevent a Wall Street Meltdown in Your Career

The past couple of weeks have been hideous for investors. Forget about the risk takers on Wall Street-they deserve what they’re getting-I’m talking about the working men and women who have watched their 401(k) and mutual fund investments shrink before their very eyes. For many of us, the financial foundation for an invigorating retirement or even for a stable career that draws on an enduring passion is gone, and all we can see ahead is the long, hard slog back to some sense of security and well being.

Not surprisingly, many of us are using this pivotal moment to think more carefully about where and how we invest for the future. As natural and appropriate as that effort is, however, it can have a negative as well as a positive effect. In the worst of circumstances, this review is a hurtful experience in which we ask ourselves why we made such bad choices or why we weren’t smarter and more insightful. In the best of circumstances, in contrast, we use this time of reflection to look for lessons we can learn from our experience and to reinforce behaviors that can help us advance ourselves in the future.

It’s in the latter spirit-the positive perspective of leveraging this difficult time to our benefit in the future-that I offer the following guidelines. Not surprisingly, they focus on investments, but these strategies are not meant for the financial sector. Think of them, instead, as my 5 Golden Rules of Career Investment. They encapsulate what we can learn from the Wall Street meltdown that will:

  • help us direct our careers more wisely going forward
  • and

  • achieve a greater return on that investment in terms of the paycheck and the satisfaction we bring home from our work.
  • Rule #1: Invest for the Long Haul.

    Set aside the time and make it a priority to advance your skills in your profession, craft or trade. Whether you’re refreshing capabilities that you already have or adding new capabilities to your toolkit, make sure you are at the state-of-the-art in the field (and that it shows on your resume). That kind of long term perspective won’t give you job security (nothing can do that in today’s world), but it will ensure that you have career security-the ability to stay employed in career enhancing positions with career enhancing employers.

    Rule #2: Spread Your Investments Around.

    In addition to continuously reinforcing your expertise in your field, also invest the time and effort to add skills that will enable you to apply that expertise more effectively or in a broader array of situations (e.g., knowledge of a hardware or software system that will enable you to work more productively, the ability to speak a language other than English so you can serve in ethnically diverse and/or overseas facilities). That expanded range of capability gives you a flexibility and adaptability that enhance your potential as well as real contribution to your employer.

    Rule #3: Move Out of High Risk Areas.

    Candidly assess the current strength and future prospects of both your boss and the project and/or business unit where you are working. Make your own observations, but also collect the views of others in and outside the organization. Then, as difficult as it may be on a personal level, act as if you were an employer: terminate your involvement with those that are not highly regarded or high performing. They are not only a risk to themselves, particularly in this environment, but they threaten your security and well being (and that of your family), as well.

    Rule #4: Listen to the Right Expert.

    The cheerleaders for the behaviors that created our current economic mess were the pundits of academia and the talking heads in the media. Their sound bite analysis and opining did much to oversimplify and sugarcoat the realities of real estate and financial investments. The best way to protect yourself from such wrongheadedness in your career is to expand your own knowledge of what’s required for success. The skills of career self-management aren’t rocket science, but they are competencies that must be acquired and continuously honed in order to serve you well.

    Rule #5: Stay Alert and Adjust as Appropriate.

    The instability that we’ve seen in the broader economy over the past year or so will likely continue for at least awhile. As a consequence, there simply is no guaranteed security in any one job or employer. The successful organization today can face an unexpected downturn tomorrow and, in the process, slow or even derail your career momentum. The only safety net, therefore, is a commitment to constant vigilance and preparation. Be loyal to your current employer by doing the best possible work you can, but be loyal to yourself, as well, by staying alert and acting at the first sign of trouble.

    Historically, financial investments were thought to be the critical element in ensuring our future well being and success. While they remain very important, it is now just as vital that you invest in your career. In fact, in the 21st Century, a carefully managed career provides every bit as great a return as any 401(k) program or mutual fund, at least if the metrics of success are your personal fulfillment and happiness.

    Thanks for reading,

    Peter

    P.S. READER’S ALERT: Don’t miss the write-up below on our latest book-WEDDLE’s Guide to Staffing Firms & Employment Agencies. The American Staffing Association reports that one-third of those who take part time or contract jobs through a staffing firm end up being hired full time by their employers. That’s why this book is “a practical path to full and part time employment”.

    P.S.S. It’s a tough job market out there, so PLEASE TELL A FRIEND ABOUT WEDDLE’s NEWSLETTER.

    This Issue’s Sponsor: Recognizing Richard Rabbit

    This issue of WEDDLE’s newsletter is brought to you through the generous support of Recognizing Richard Rabbit, Peter Weddle’s big bestseller in a little book that is the “must read” new publication for professionals on the move.

    Recognizing Richard Rabbit is a fable for adults, young and not so young. In the genre of Who Moved My Cheese?, it’s a tale about some forest friends who make an amazing discovery by trying to help one of their own. They don’t uncover the key to organizational change, however, or to setting strategic goals for the enterprise. No, Recognizing Richard Rabbit is a much more personal book and its gift is unique to each and every reader.

    This story opens the door to genuine self exploration. It is all about finding the secret to authentic living. To being your own true self. How does Recognizing Richard Rabbit do that? Unlike traditional fables, this tale unfolds in two synchronized parts: one in fiction-the fable, the other in nonfiction-a parallel self-interview. In essence, you are invited to tap both the creative and the analytic sides of your brain-to probe the whole of your inherent talent-so you can find the pathway to the person you were meant to be.

    Why is that so important? Because whether you are a mid-career professional or a first time job seeker, whether you are a senior executive or a skilled tradesperson, whether you are actively looking for a job or just keeping your options open, the key to success is a sure understanding of who you are and what you stand for. So, make sure you know the authentic You. Get your copy of Recognizing Richard Rabbit today. All you have to do is call WEDDLE’s at 317.598.9768 or click here. Don’t delay. Get Recognizing Richard Rabbit right away.

    Section Two: Site News You Can Use

    Associations Now magazine from the American Society of Association Executives published an article with tips on how to ensure your resume makes it through an employer’s initial scan as well as that of the hiring manager. Among its tips (with some commentary from me):

  • Make it easy for a clerk to scan. This initial screen probably lasts 10 seconds or less so it’s critical that your key credentials leap off the page. How can you ensure they do that? Include a short summary of your five or ten strongest qualities in bullets at the top of your resume (just beneath your name and contact information).
  • Make it easy for the computer to scan. Remove the following from your resume: boxes and columns, underlining, italics, a font with serifs (those little horizontal lines beneath the vertical lines in letters) and a font size smaller than 11 points. Why? Because resume processing technology (which many employers now use) is myopic and you want to be sure that it reads your credentials accurately.
  • Make it easy for the decision-maker to make the right decision. Don’t insult them by submitting a generic resume. Instead, tailor your resume for the position the hiring manager is trying to fill. Then, make sure you provide plenty of proof (i.e., accomplishments) to verify your capabilities and differentiate you from the rest of the candidates.
  • Robert Half International and CareerBuilder.com released the results of a survey of recent hiring trends. Notwithstanding all of the dire reports in the media, over half of the responding employers reported that they are still having difficulty finding skilled professionals. It’s now taking them four to 14 weeks to fill openings and longer for more senior positions. What are they doing about it? A growing number of employers are ratcheting up their salary structure to attract top performers. Nearly two-thirds (65%) say they are willing to negotiate compensation if that’s what it takes to hire the best candidates. What does this change in employer perspective mean for you? If you have state-of-the-art skills and a track record that demonstrates your ability to apply them effectively on-the-job, there’s never been a better job market. (Just make sure you do your homework and review a current industry salary survey so your expectations are, in fact, reasonable.) On the other hand, if you’ve let your skills slip or you have a mediocre performance record, this will likely be a difficult time in which to find employment.

    The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) published the results of a survey which echoes the positive news provide above by Robert Half and CareerBuilder.com. Despite all of the handwringing about the job market for the Class of 2008, it turns out that graduates did exceptionally well. Better than nine-out-of-ten (94%) of all academic disciplines say an increase in their starting salary offers over the year before. In fact, the average starting salary offer to all college graduates in the association’s Fall 2008 Salary Survey was up a healthy 7.6% to $49,224. Of course, the exceptionally high offers in certain fields-computer and information sciences and engineering, for example-undoubtedly padded the average, but even those with business administration/management, economics, accounting, liberal arts and-yes, even English-majors saw increased offers, as well.

    WEDDLE’s has announced the release of a powerful new tool for job seekers. Called WEDDLE’s Guide to Staffing Firms & Employment Agencies, it’s a comprehensive listing of such organizations organized by their occupational, industry and geographic specialties.

  • Some people prefer temporary, contract or part time employment. It gives them freedom and flexibility in their careers.
  • For others, it’s a foot in the door-the American Staffing Association reports that one-third of those who take such positions are ultimately hired full time by their employer.
  • Whichever is your preference, this book is the fast way to find a job, even in a difficult economy. To order WEDDLE’s Guide to Staffing Firms & Employment Agencies, call WEDDLE’s at 317.598.9768 or click here.

    WEDDLE’s also offers a number of other publications that can help you land the job of your dreams, even in today’s tough job market. They include:

  • WEDDLE’s 2007/8 Guide to Employment Sites on the Internet. Called the “Zagat of the online employment industry” by the American Staffing Association, it provides full-page profiles of 350 of the best job boards in a range of occupations, industries and locations;
  • WEDDLE’s 2007/8 Directory of Employment Related Internet Sites. The “address book of the online employment industry,” it lists over 9,000 sites and organizes them by the career fields, industries and geographies on which they focus; and
  • WEDDLE’s 2007/8 Guide to Association Web Sites. The key to the “hidden job market” online, it details the employment resources and capabilities that are provided at the Web-sites of over 1,900 associations and societies.
  • Finding a job in the present environment is difficult; finding a great job is even more difficult. Part of the challenge is knowing where to look. With over 50,000 job boards in the U.S. alone, there are lots of places where you can waste a lot of time and effort. How can you avoid that trap? Be a smart consumer. Get the gold standard of job board guides: WEDDLE’s. They will help you identify the job boards that will work best for you. So, don’t delay! Call WEDDLE’s at 317.598.9768 or click here to place your order today.

    Section Three: Site Profiles

    Site Spotlite … from the pages of WEDDLE’s 2007/8 Guides and Directories

    There are 50,000 job boards now in operation in North America and an equal number operating elsewhere around the world. The key to a successful online job search, therefore, is knowing where to find and how to select the best sites for your specific employment objective. WEDDLE’s 2007/8 Guide identifies 350 of the top sites worldwide and provides the information you need to determine which job boards will deliver the best opportunities for you. For example:

    Opportunity Knocks

    http://www.opportunityknocks.org

    Post full time jobs: Yes

    Post part time, contract or consulting jobs: Yes-All + volunteer

    Distribution of jobs: National-USA

    Number of jobs: 750

    Salary levels of jobs: $76-100K/yr, $101-150Kyr

    Offer a job agent: Yes

    Resume database: Yes

    How long are resumes stored: 1 year without activity

    Restrictions on who can post: Anyway in or considering the nonprofit field

    Other services for job seekers: Discussion forum for networking, Assessment instruments, Career information, Links to other sites with career information

    Member, International Association of Employment Web Sites: Yes

    Get Recognizing Richard Rabbit Today!

    This issue of WEDDLE’s newsletter is brought to you through the generous support of Recognizing Richard Rabbit, Peter Weddle’s big bestseller in a little book that is the “must read” new publication for professionals on the move.

    Recognizing Richard Rabbit is a fable for adults, young and not so young. In the genre of Who Moved My Cheese?, it’s a tale about some forest friends who make an amazing discovery by trying to help one of their own. They don’t uncover the key to organizational change, however, or to setting strategic goals for the enterprise. No, Recognizing Richard Rabbit is a much more personal book and its gift is unique to each and every reader.

    This story opens the door to genuine self exploration. It is all about finding the secret to authentic living. To being your own true self. How does Recognizing Richard Rabbit do that? Unlike traditional fables, this tale unfolds in two synchronized parts: one in fiction-the fable, the other in nonfiction-a parallel self-interview. In essence, you are invited to tap both the creative and the analytic sides of your brain-to probe the whole of your inherent talent-so you can find the pathway to the person you were meant to be.

    Why is that so important? Because whether you are a mid-career professional or a first time job seeker, whether you are a senior executive or a skilled tradesperson, whether you are actively looking for a job or just keeping your options open, the key to success is a sure understanding of who you are and what you stand for. So, make sure you know the authentic You. Get your copy of Recognizing Richard Rabbit today. All you have to do is call WEDDLE’s at 317.598.9768 or click here. Don’t delay. Get Recognizing Richard Rabbit right away.