With the continued bleak outlook that the media are giving to the job market in 2009, as a job search coach and resume writer, I am hoping that out of it we can finally put to rest some misconceptions that I believe have really been plaguing professionals for a while and that have a lot to do with the improper outlook many of us have in regard to our careers.
For one, I am hoping that we can finally put to rest the idea that some company will protect you and provide for you for your entire career. Personally, I don’t believe that companies should have ever been put in that position in the first place, nor should they have promised the farm to their workers (pensions for life, health care benefits for life).
Now a lot of retired workers are having to face the reality that these companies cannot deliver on these promises, and of course, these retirees are not prepared for that. And why should they be?
So certainly anyone under the age of 45 should kiss goodbye the idea that some Fortune 100 or 500 or 1000 or 10,000 is going to keep you comfortable through retirement.
Most professionals today can expect to undergo at least 4 job searches throughout their career. For some reason, when I work with job seekers, they always seem surprised to hear that. I’m not sure why because that average has been true for quite some time now.
Second, it’s been a long time in this country since small businesses (by that I mean truly small, mom-and-pop-type firms) have flourished. I look around my NY neighborhood now, and my wife and I are the only entrepreneurs out of 150 homes. I can almost segment all the people in our development into the government, health care, school district, telecommunications, and finance markets. Historically, when unemployment goes up and jobs are scarce, people get creative and small businesses form. Not all of them succeed, true, but some do.
I know what you may be thinking, “Not everyone can be an entrepreneur.” Perhaps, but when it comes to careers today, whether you open up a mom-and-pop shop or enter the corporate world, you would be wise to apply entrepreneurial principles to your career. First and foremost, an entrepreneur recognizes that to succeed, he or she must be adaptable and ahead of the curve.
Third, maybe we can finally end our overdependence on benefits in this country. With the cost of health care increasing each year, I hear more and more job seekers placing medical benefits among the top—if not the number 1—considerations of their job search. Although health care is certainly important to all of us, making it number 1 is not a good idea primarily because it causes us to become prisoners to our jobs and to these corporations who may be well meaning in regard to their benefits packages but not necessarily able to follow through when the time comes.
Fundamentally, I think that most of us just want to find a place that is comfortable, will provide for us, and will continually give us new opportunities and challenges. Again, I am not sure where this idea comes from, but when our careers don’t pan out that way and the company we hung our hat on doesn’t live up to these expectations, then we suffer major disappointment.
Maybe as Americans we are just dreamers. And we want to believe that if we just go to work and do a good job everyday, that we will receive our due. It sounds nice in theory, but if it ever really existed, it certainly does not anymore.
Personally, I think that once you get a hold of that, it frees you up to pursue so many other opportunities. So I am hoping that as we enter into 2009, we can lay aside these dreams and form new ones steeped in the reality of not just today’s job market but the job market we have really had for the last decade or so.