Looking at Employability
High unemployment numbers would seem to imply there is a glut of available talent. But, are all of these displaced workers employable? By employable, I mean possessing the necessary skills and willing to accept the compensation terms offered by the employer. From the perspective of a corporate hiring professional, anyone could be judged as employable if they are simply a viable candidate for any of the company’s existing openings. A recruiting firm might have a similar definition based on the clientele it serves.
On the flip side, the term “unemployable” is very depressing. Many good workers have been squeezed out by the economy. However, if the anecdotal evidence within my two degrees of separation is a reliable indicator, there is a portion of today’s displaced workforce that is temporarily unemployable. The key word is “temporarily.” Stick with me while I explain.
Death By Neglect
Many people learn the hard way that working their jobs faithfully and consistently while not so faithfully, intentionally, and consistently working on themselves is risky. Personal neglect combined with promotions based on seniority (i.e. “The Peter Principle”) and cost of living adjustments leads to a “productivity vs. compensation deficit,” a condition that turns good people into “organizational dead wood.” By comparison, those who neglect their bodies the way they neglect their minds are speeding toward death.
Speaking of death, one of life’s tragic lessons is revealed at funerals. I’m not referring to loss of the dearly departed. I’m referring to the regret those who are left behind openly express to each other with words such as, “It’s a shame we only see each other at funerals.”
“Every man dies – Not every man really lives.”
— William Wallace, Brave Heart
Besides finding time to be with loved ones, what else do people routinely neglect because they are “too busy?” Professional development! Unfortunately, it often takes a sudden job loss for most people to resume investing in themselves. Whether one is unemployed, at risk of becoming unemployed, considering a voluntary career change, or safe in their current job, the advice is the same – develop and execute a strategic plan for personal and professional development.
What’s Gonna Be My Plan?
Investing in oneself is just as much the solution to being temporarily unemployable as it is the key to career advancement and personal satisfaction. Accepting these truths, the question becomes, “Where do I want to go and how do I plan to get there?”
“Would you tell me please which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat
“I don t much care where—” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat
“—so long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation.
”Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”
— Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
Some will choose a plan based on learning new processes and procedures. Others will look to gain new technical knowledge. Still others will seek growth by developing new manual skills. All good stuff! However, a long-term strategy must also include working on life skills sometimes known by names such as: self-awareness, values clarification, value/behavior realignment, verbal and written communication, relationship building, teamwork, change management, strategic planning, goal setting, leadership, networking, motivation, emotional intelligence, character development, and etiquette. Above every other skill, it’s these life skills that make people more valuable to their employers. Also, they are fully transferable to any employer, career, industry, and every other aspect of life.
Defining urgency, someone once said, “The time to dig your well is before you are thirsty.” If you are thirsty now, the urgency is even more profound. So, “your mission, should you decide to accept it,” is to revitalize your career by investing in yourself. Create a strategic plan for yourself, with short-term and long-term objectives and put it into action immediately.