To Those Still Asleep
by Michael Mayher

I give advice to people about how to better enable themselves to find jobs, using means beyond the same methods used by everyone else. If the crowd goes in one direction I advise another route. I also provide much more advice and tips for interviewing more effectively – something that, in reality, most people are essentially clueless about – including most interviewers, believe it or not.

But let me take this opportunity to inform and awaken those who are currently working and yet doing nothing constructive to either A) be better prepared, qualified or positioned in order to be more appealing to potential employers, or B) to galvanize and better protect your current job status and value to your present employer. This is how you make yourself as indispensable as you can. Continuing education is a career-long effort and it does not necessarily involve so-called institutions of higher learning, it is worthy of noting; so much now is available online. The bottom line is you have to make the effort before events overtake you and, folks, the writing on the wall could not be more obvious for 6+ years and counting.

Among those who are currently working, there are those who are nervously watching and listening for every event and rumor trying to anticipate their impending doom. On the other end of the scale, I see those who are comfy in their routine and they just don’t seem aware they could be impacted by any market fluctuations; that stuff happens to everyone else – they think they’re immune. Then there’s everyone else, situated somewhere between those two extremes. If, as indicated in my last blog entry, you are currently employed and think you are safe, I wish you well. But considering the way things are trending, now more than ever you should be prepared.

Among those who are currently employed and at most risk, are people who have been in one position for a long time, without any advancement and have done no updating of their skills nor have engaged in  professional self-improvement initiatives. Furthermore, if the ax falls and your job is cut after being with one organization for more than a decade – again, without having done anything that would add value to your status as an employee, then yeah, you should be nervous. Hey, don’t kill the messenger and take advantage of the wake-up call, if it isn’t already too late.

Some companies still offer company paid (or reimbursed) training for those who want to improve their skills, or they may cost share. Regardless of whether they do or not, you should be updating or improving your skills to stay relevant. No one is safe anymore and to think otherwise is, frankly, indicative of being tone deaf to what is happening all around us. Making yourself more indispensable does not mean sucking up or being a brown-nose; besides, even if you think you have your boss’s favor, guess again; if they or their regime depart, where does that leave you?

Nobody can willfully sit back, collect dust and collect a paycheck, assuming no one will notice and, if so, you may get what you deserve. If you have a skill, improve upon it; if you’re good at something, become even better. If you are in an industry that is dying, don’t just sit there; start taking courses or cross-train. However, this does not necessarily mean you should incur debt with an MBA or something similar. University degrees are increasingly over-rated considering the value proposition of what you get in return for the investment, and another framed degree on the wall does not make you more valuable. But expanding on qualifications, keeping up with industry trends and, of course, making a level-best effort to perform in your work to your best of ability is not only important to your employer, but also for your own self-respect.

My father worked for Ford Motor for about 35 years, his father worked for GM for about as many years, but those days are long gone. I’m not a pessimist, don’t misunderstand me, but I am a realist. As a long-time headhunter and consultant, I am a Prepper of sorts within the professional realm. I am always seeking ways to stay ahead and anticipate trends and contemplate the what-ifs, considering the best ways to gird for unpleasantness, however it can be prevented, avoided or at least, short-lived. I’m an adherent of perpetual preventive maintenance as opposed to doing nothing and awaiting misfortune. The new normal demands we all adopt this mindset. As I noted last week, what was prior to 2008 is no longer - it’s dead and gone. With all that said, the future need not be bleak. Applying the coldest logic, to evolve means you must adapt, or die (in a manner of speaking) and the same applies toward your career. Anticipate, prepare to prevent and ride out as best you can the changes that will affect all of us at one time or another. There are a lot of things you could and should be doing – if you’re not already. I offer my own expertise, to those unsure of where and how to start.

I love the proverb that is claimed to be Native American in its origin, although I suppose many cultures have a version to the same effect, which states, “You cannot awaken those who pretend to sleep.” Are you awake, or is your strategy instead to feign sleep, with your eyes tightly shut and your fingers crossed? I have no sympathy for sleepwalkers.

Okay, enough of this stuff – the next time we’ll get back to providing some helpful advice.  

More articles by Michael Mayher:
The Way It Was/The Way It Is
Demonstrating Interest is Not Begging
Confidence is a Key Ingredient
Stop Relying on the Internet

Career Survival Skills: The First Interview
The Interview
Resolve to Make This Year, Your Year
Periodic Update of Your Resume

About the Author: Michael Mayher has been an international direct search recruiter on two continents for over 22 years. A consultant, published author, lecturer and blogger, he re-introduces professionals to critical Soft Skills lost in our digital age and necessary to effectively navigate their careers. You can find more information by visiting his blog and website.

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