Shift Happens

Every day we are made aware of the significant changes going on in our economy. Companies that were seen as stable and supplying millions of jobs are being broken up or drastically downsized. Unemployment is increasing and the number of people seeking services is overwhelming many of the public resources created to help citizens find new employment. Simultaneously, new companies and industries are springing up and creating new jobs for the people who know how to contribute to them and market their skills.

As President of Transition Management Associates and a Member of The Board of Directors of the Mercer County Workforce Investment Board I have some suggestions regarding how to cope in this environment.

The question people must ask themselves is, “How do I keep the job I already have or find a new position that will allow myself to support my family and myself”. The changes or “shifts” in our workplace must be matched by how we find and keep work. As President of Transition Management Associates, I have spoken with thousands of people who needed to transition in the workforce, from CEO’s to people with little work experience. There are some things everyone must do to be successful.

Know your strengths. What is it that you are good at and like to do (perhaps have a passion for)? Everyone has multiple skills and most people either underestimate what they can do or fail to communicate these skills to other people. People need to make a list of all their achievements and look at all the skills they have used. Resumes need to be targeted and written based more on where you want to go versus just what has been done in the past.

In working with a bank that needed to get rid of non-performing assets, people who had strong sales dynamics but worked in other areas of the bank had their job descriptions changed to meet the employer’s needs, and they helpedsell off the assets successfully.

Be focused-Once people have a clear idea of their strengths, and their personal values (what is really important to them), they need to develop a plan about how to attain their goals (just thinking about it will not do) and then work the plan. I advise people to have a clear message and to schedule their day with the most productive activities. A lot of people are now focusing on getting a job through the Internet yet only a small percentage of jobs are filled that way. The majority of jobs still come about through networking

Be flexible- During the past year, I spoke to GM Employees who were leaving their jobs and looking at the next steps in their lives. The ones who could look at themselves as people who were more than their old title or simply identifying as a GM Employee were able to find new positions faster than their colleagues who were stuck in the past. People need to look at all their options including job titles and industries they never considered before. New job growth almost always comes from small and medium sized companies. Many of them are in industries that might not have even existed a few years ago (such as many of the “green “ industries.

A woman who had worked at a specialty chemical company in accounts payable believed that the only job she was qualified for was one similar to the one she had just lost. After looking at her skills and interests we discovered that, in addition to her business skills she had an interest in helping the elderly. She took a position as a bookkeeper at a large nursing home and discovered it was a great fit.

Life-long learning- the world is changing and people need to keep up. When looking for a job the job seeker should ask the question do they have the skills that that are needed to stay a valued employee, and if not how does one get them? People need to continually learn and gain new skills. It might mean getting a Mentor, or reading about your subject of interest or taking a course at your local community college. What employees, at all levels, can’t afford to do is sit back and stop learning if they want to be a success in the new economy.

Be part of a community (ies). The more people who know who you are and what you have to contribute the easier it is to find and keep a job. People have been talking about networking for years but it is even more important now. It is more than asking people whom they know who can help you. It is also developing a reputation as someone who is willing to reach out and help others.

By knowing what you have to contribute, being aware of your options, looking at your possibilities with an open mind, setting and following through on your goals and being part of a community you will be in the best position to see what your choices are and to meet your goals.

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