With unemployment sitting at multi-year highs, many are focused on keeping their edge in the career stakes. Very little is written about what mistakes the current unemployed fell into. Let us delve into this aspect; as the proverb goes: “It is better to learn through others’ experience than your own”. Here are a couple of career vignettes from the world of the unemployed.
Location, location, location
When you have a respected brand on your resume, it goes to the top of the pile. I have a couple of friends who were job hunting at the same time. Some have far better and deeper experience than others. The ones that inevitably received more callbacks were the ones with brand experience on their resume, even though others may have been in positions of more responsibility. One of my colleagues at my previous company worked at the “Four Seasons” as a Doorman (in the hospitality industry) about two and a half decades ago. When he is called back he always gets asked about it.
Networking should happen when you are employed
Employers can smell desperation. It is almost always suspect when someone who is unemployed wants to have an “informational interview”, no matter what all the career books say. It is far more powerful when you can say that you are “some-sort-of-manager” at “some-company” and wants to have coffee to gain some insight into the industry.
The state of the economy does not just matter to economists
A legacy of the industrial economy is that, if you keep your nose to the grindstone, you will always have work. Most of the unemployed will beg to differ. You have to be very clear if you are in a vulnerable industry and keep up to date with the big picture. As the economy swings from boom to bust and back, some industries will see retrenchments. A good example would be the Auto Industry, with significant retrenchments, while some recession-proof industries, such as Healthcare will not suffer significant job losses. Workers in the automotive industry would have saved themselves a lot of pain if they gained some extra skills that was not just applicable in that particular industry.
You are more vulnerable than you think
As a middle manager, you may feel that you have a good career and made all the right moves. You worked hard, got promoted and took on more and more responsibility. However, it is almost a rule of business that the middle gets cut first. There are millions of people who are now overqualified for some positions and under-qualified for others and are now having to swallow their pride to do something that, after a very successful career, they never thought they would have to resort to.
More education is not a magic formula to success
It is common knowledge that enrollments in Law and Business schools peak during recessionary times. Make sure that there are good prospects attached. Great knowledge means nothing if everybody else has it too or if the new skills are not in demand. If you check through job boards / job classified ads, you will soon see which skills are in demand and which skills are not. Better to do your research first before spending your time and money on the “hot new thing”.
In today’s career landscape, it is very important to keep ahead of the pack and heed good advice when it is given. I hope that this article has given you some “food for thought” on the mistakes to avoid, in order to survive during these troubled times.