The world has fundamentally changed since the great recession of 2008. In 2013 alone, 77 percent of the jobs created were part-time and we now have 50 percent more part-time workers in the United States since the great recession. Although unemployment numbers look like they are improving, they hide an insidious fact. The American worker is falling behind, wages are decreasing, and those who are not prepared are left wondering what to do. This is having an impact on everyone from young millennials to those nearing retirement.
However, those who are aware of these developments and make changes to how they approach their career have the “first mover” advantage as they get a head start on everyone else taking steps to have success. To get on the right track for your career, consider these steps:
Have a Plan
As an officer in the United States Air Force, I often heard the phrase, “If you don’t have a plan, you are planning to fail.” This wise counsel is not only great advice for leaders preparing for combat operations, but it is also crucial for those in the job market today.
In the past, people had the luxury of taking a year or two in college to discover themselves and decide what they wanted to do in life. With the rising cost of college tuition and students graduating on average with $30,000 in student loan debt, it is expensive to enter college without a plan.
It is just as expensive to enter your career without a plan. Picking a career field and going down that path gaining industry experience and contacts only to discover years later this is not what you want to do is costly. The opportunity costs you incur for investing years in the wrong career field can be immense.
Starting with some sort of plan both for college and your career will save you time and money. I recommend taking a Career Direct assessment at CareerDirect.org. It is the best assessment I have found to get you started on the right path.
Develop a “Freedom Fund”
Our grandparents could expect to hire in with a company and be there 25-30 years until retirement. That is not the case today. Experts agree that most millennials will change jobs 8-12 times in their lifetime. Some of these job transitions will not be voluntary.
With most Americans living paycheck to paycheck, the loss of an income even for a short period of time can be catastrophic. Learn how to reduce your overhead and develop a cash reserve called a “Freedom Fund” that will enable you to transition in your career without hardship. This is the best insurance you can have in this new economy.
Those who have both time and financial margin in their lives will be able to quickly seize new opportunities when they are presented. Those who don’t have margin and are saddled with anchors like debt will find it more difficult to take advantage of opportunities.
Manage Your Social Media
Many businesses were slow to the party but have learned that social media is a tool just as important as Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and the host of other platforms they use to run their businesses. Human Resource departments now commonly use social media in all aspects of hiring. One placement executive told me that 75 percent of all their searches start on LinkedIn, saying, “If people are not on LinkedIn, they don’t exist.”
Consider your LinkedIn account your online resume and Facebook as an online background check. Any organization that is considering hiring you will look at both locations to get an idea of who you are and what you are all about. Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest are also being searched to get a holistic picture of any candidate in consideration. Your online social media presence WILL have an impact on your success in landing a job.
Take into consideration the organizations you are applying to and their culture and customers they are serving. Girls Gone Wild videos, Insane Clown Posse photos, and radical political views might be OK with your friends but might cause a respective employer to think twice about offering you a job. In this tight job market, you want to remove as many barriers as possible to give you the greatest chance for success.
Remember Who You Work For
Re-tooling your career and trying to find and please a new employer can feel overwhelming, and always we must strive to be excellent at what we do. But there is real peace of mind in remembering that no matter what our job, our goal is to glorify and honor God in all we do and to make a difference in the world around us.
Colossians 3: 23-24 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” God has work for you to do. When you live your life in alignment with His calling for you, you will find fulfillment. That is when you will have your greatest success personally and when you will also have the biggest impact in the world around you.