While many of my blogs are aimed at helping the unemployed track down interviews that lead to employment, some (like this one) are also intended to help those who are currently working get ahead. This blog however, is aimed squarely at those who are currently employed in order to help them get a job in the event a future day comes when they find themselves out of work.
For the purposes of simplifying things, I’m going to take the liberty of dividing working people into two categories; those who continuously learn new things and network on a regular basis, and those who have become comfortable in their positions and make little effort to upgrade their skills and work their professional networking circles.
Here’s the problem in a nutshell people: At some point, be it for a number of reasons, you just might find yourself out of work. With a lack of ongoing training your skills may be obsolete, even though your length of service was commendable. And the networking? Well, if you’ve not taken the time to maintain communications with others, you may now have no contact information for them, and they have no strong motivation to help you now even if you do seek them out.
The subject for today’s blog came to me twice; once yesterday afternoon and once this morning – and it’s only 5:45 a.m. as I write this! A fellow on-line colleague weighed-in with her thoughts and mentioned the number of older workers she is assisting whom took little effort to continually upgrade their skills and now have learning gaps to overcome. And yesterday, a senior long-term co-worker of mine asked me to do his work for him and issue some benefits to clients in his workshop – because he doesn’t know how to do it.
Although I’ve given two examples above about what prompted me to write today, there’s a third more prominent example I’m thinking of. I have a personal friend who worked at a management level in a company for nearly two decades. While good at his job, he had mentioned for some time how the job didn’t challenge him anymore and he had actually started to think seriously about other opportunities that he might check out. Unfortunately, the decision was made for him as he was released from his job a couple of months ago.
Now in a smaller community of 74,000 people, and as the top guy in a retail outlet that supplies the public with office material, I would have thought that he’d have networked with other business owners and managers on a regular basis to attract their accounts and supply them with their supplies. That apparently wasn’t the case. Unfortunately, he didn’t forge those contacts, and so now out of work he has no history of interaction to draw on where they might alert him to openings or upcoming job possibilities.
Technology alone is one of the most obvious and most-cited areas in which a person can and should stay up-to-date with their learning. Can you imagine going into an interview and in 2014 proudly stating that you’re a wiz when it comes to using your Commodore 64? I’m willing to be the graduating classes of 2014 have likely never heard of that or if they have, they’ve likely not seen one. You not only need to be using currently hardware, you need to stay up on the software too and use latest versions.
And if technology doesn’t affect you a great deal in your line of work, think again. A man in his fifties came in the other day and said he was looking for a job as a Driver. He figures with no computer skills he can at least drive a truck for a company. Surprisingly, he’s not aware that the inventory in that truck isn’t being kept on paper attached to a clipboard, but rather on a hand-held device electronically scanning the load. Even the driving is guided by a GPS these days, not a folded map.
Now it’s true, you may be banking on the fact that you have a job for life; that unemployment is something that happens to other poor souls but not you. And furthermore, you might be relying on your past track record of being able to get a job quickly if you ever were out of work, because it’s always come easy to you. I hope you never have to find out if your track record continues to be that good.
2014 is much different for job seekers than it used to be. Essentially there are more people out of work and looking for employment than there has been. Fewer companies are hiring in many jurisdictions because of the economic climate. That combination of many job seekers and few jobs means you’re in for some tough competition. Oh but right, you already have a job and don’t need to worry about that.
I wonder however what discussions are being held, and decisions being contemplated behind corporate doors that you don’t know about yet but will soon. It might be that you regret decisions you’re making now to avoid working your contacts and upgrading your skills. Take better care of these things now and it could pay off handsomely in the future.
At least look into skill development. If you are lucky, maybe your company pays for this training. Go to a conference or at least dialogue with people in your field. Never bad advice.
Written By Kelly Mitchell