Revert At Your Own Risk

Revert At Your Own Risk

My last post dealt with the need for career self-management in these turbulent times.  The key phrase there, of course, is “in these turbulent times.”  Now that the economy appears to have stabilized and even improved, is it really necessary to be a Career Activist?  Has the reason for proactive oversight of your career disappeared?

Most of us lead very busy lives, so the last thing we need is another responsibility.  During the Great Recession, we accepted that such an environment required a more vigilant approach to managing our career.  The constant drumbeat of layoffs, however, has all but disappeared, and for many that’s been the signal to revert to “business as usual” – to focusing on the 2400 other things we have to accomplish each day.

There are two reasons why this slipping into reverse is a mistake.  First and most importantly, the economy may be improving, but the structural shifts it is experiencing are continuing and even accelerating.  These shifts are every bit as disruptive as the shifts that occurred in the late 19th century when the country moved from an agrarian to an industrial economy.  They will affect every occupational field, every industry, and every job.

In such an environment, you have only two choices.  You can either be the master of those shifts or their victim.  And, mastery doesn’t happen with an old fashioned, laissez faire approach to your career.  It is achieved only by integrating the principles and practices of effective career self-management – what you and I call Career Activism – into your workday.

There is, however, another reason for taking on such a responsibility in an improving economy.  According to a recent survey by Jobvite, over half – 51 percent – of employed workers want to leave their current job.  They’ve had enough of all of the extra work and diminished benefits at their current employer and think they can do better somewhere else.

And, maybe they can.  But, making such a move is fraught with danger.  Why?  Because of those structural shifts.  It’s entirely possible that the new company you join with such enthusiasm one week will decide the next week to move into the “gig economy.”  As a result, that permanent full time job you had becomes a contract position offering less pay and a lot more uncertainty.

If you have any doubt about that, consider this: a recent poll by The Daily Beast and Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates found that one-third of those surveyed “were now working either freelance or in two jobs” – not because they want to, but because that’s the only way they can pay the bills.

So, the reasons for making the effort to care for your career haven’t gone away, they’ve just changed.  And, that means being a Career Activist isn’t really a choice; it’s a necessity.  Or to put it another way, you revert to old habits at your own risk.

Thanks for reading,

Peter