Who’s Going to Put You to Work?

Who’s Going to Put You to Work?

Friday’s unemployment numbers were grim by any measure.  What’s even more grim, however, is the yawning divide between reality and the perceptions of at least some in the workforce.

The New York Times interviewed a recently laid off auto worker about the lousy labor situation.  His response said it all.  He asked in frustration, “Who’s going to put me to work?”.  The answer, I must report, is no one.  You see, it’s up to each of us to put ourselves back to work.

Now, please don’t misunderstand.  I know how tough it is to be unemployed.  I’ve been there myself.  Twice.  So, I’m not, for a second, diminishing the frustration and even the fear those who are unemployed may be feeling.  But, I also think they—we—need to face the facts.  And the one unalterable truth in today’s unforgiving job market is that you’re on your own.

Want proof?  Take the recent excitement over the stimulus bill putting some new police academy graduates to work in Columbus, Ohio.  That’s good news, of course, but it’s not reality.  The government did not resurrect the careers of those cops.  All it did was give them a false sense of security.  The stimulus bill will cover only their pay for 2009.  After that … well, who knows.

And that’s my point.  You can either be in charge of your career or you can be its victim.  If you wait around for the government, your employer, the tooth fairy to fix you up in the workplace, you’re likely to end up disappointed.

On the other hand, if you set out to strengthen your career—to build the occupational muscle you need for the employment goals you select—you’ll not only have the right stuff to succeed, whatever the economy throws your way, but you’ll also earn the satisfaction and self-respect that comes from having achieved that goal on your own.

Thanks for reading,
Peter