The End of Come As You Are

The End of Come As You Are

Most of those who are in transition today are looking for a new job the same way they did the last time they were in the job market. And that’s a terrible mistake. In fact, it’s almost certain to lead to career cardiac arrest or what most of us call unemployment.

Why is that? Because today’s (and tomorrow’s) workplace is profoundly different from any that has ever existed in the United States. Just as the Great Depression changed the behavior of a whole generation of Americans, this Great Recession is changing the behavior of this generation of employers.

What we’re now seeing in corporate America is not a reduction in force; it’s a reduction in structure. There are fewer jobs, and those positions that have disappeared will never come back. But that’s not all. Even as they are downsizing their organization charts, America’s employers are also upgrading their staff. They’re trading out “C” level performers for “A” level talent.

Those two facts of work change everything. They mean that the days of the “come as you are” job market are over. You can no longer find a job the old fashioned way. And you never will be able to again.

We’re all familiar with the traditional approach to job search. It was a simple 4-step process:
• Step 1. You wrote up your resume.
• Step 2. You sent your resume out to a bunch of employers.
• Step 3. You did a little networking around the edges.
• Step 4. You landed a new job that was usually equal to and often better than the one you had before.

For 60 years or more, those four steps were the way Americans managed their careers and secured their hold on the American Dream. And they are now as obsolete as buggy whips and carbon paper.

The come as you are job market has morphed into the “only the best need apply” job market. Companies will no longer hire qualified people for their openings. This Great Recession has convinced them that they cannot survive and prosper in a global marketplace with that kind of employment strategy. Instead, if they want to be around to enjoy the recovery, they’re going to have to hire the best qualified talent there is.

What’s that mean for you and me? We have to change the four steps in our job search methodology. Here’s what we have to do now:

Step 1. Resuscitate your career. If you’re out of work, your career is sick. As with a physical illness, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve done anything wrong. It does, however, require that you get yourself well. You must upgrade your skill set, expand and enrich your network of professional contacts, add powerful new ancillary capabilities and do all of the other things that establishes a fit career. And you must do that before you start looking for a job.

Step 2. You must focus only on jobs where you are best qualified and then tailor your resume for each of those specific openings. They days of shotgun applications and generic resumes are also over.

Step 3. You must practice networking as the word indicates you should. It’s netWORK, not net-get-around-to-it-whenever-it’s-convenient. And you must network online as well as off.

Step 4. You must pick an employment opportunity that provides two forms of compensation. The near term paycheck you need to meet your financial obligations and the ongoing flexibility, time and support you need to invest in the continuous improvement of your career. Why do you need both? Because in the 21st Century world of work, you’ll likely be repeating these four new steps in the next three-to-five years.

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