As someone who entered the job market in The Great Recession, this is a familiar question. Most of us living (and working) in the real world today recognize that the old fashioned idea of working at one company for life and retiring comfortably with a pension and healthy nest egg is dead. The reasons why are numerous: student loan debt, wage stagnation, increasing healthcare costs, increasing technology and automation, globalization, etc. But knowing these challenges is only half of the battle; the question becomes how do you as an employee make this economy work for you?
R. William Holland takes on this topic in his 2006 book Are There Any Good Jobs Left? Career Management in the Age of the Disposable Worker. I recently read the book, and it does contain some great information both for people currently in the working world and for those who are just getting ready to enter it.
The commitment employers are asking from prospective employees often exceeds what companies themselves are willing or able to give. – R. William Holland
According to Holland, the key to successfully navigating the modern economy is to understand this fundamental shift in what he calls the employee value proposition. Being unwilling or unable to accept this new reality leads to the job seeker being stuck in a time warp. Instead, Holland argues that workers need to start seeing themselves as “A business of one” and viewing the employee-employer relationship through the lens of contractors or consultants: employment will be only as long as it needs to be to complete the project or goal. As such, the employee must always be ready to pursue new opportunities.
If you accept this new career landscape, it goes without saying that having an updated resume ready to go at all times is vital. Holland walks the reader through advice not only for resumes, but also for interviews and negotiations. He emphasizes this new career landscape also requires keeping your skills fresh, especially at a time when professional development is often seen as a waste of money by companies who see employees as easily replaceable. Holland also takes time to examine how we got here and highlights some of the pain points this will create in society at large that need to be addressed.
STRETCH To Your Future
Stay current with your profession or industry
Take your personal brand seriously
Reach out to the connectors of the world
Expand your brand
Talk about the value you create
Have it your way
Holland’s advice is generally spot on, including his recommendation to STRETCH your future. Overall, while some of the tips and information in the book is a bit dated, I recommend this book as required reading not only for employees, but also for all high school and college students who will soon be attempting to navigate the modern economy.
Interested in the evolution of work? Check out The Future of Work podcast. Host Jacob Morgan helps you future proof your career with great guests and timely topics like The Importance of Being Social Inside and Outside the Workplace and How to Succeed in the Digital Workplace. Subscribe via iTunes or RSS Feed.