Learn to Survive in a World of Disposable Jobs

By Martin Yate

There's bad news and good news.

Let's start with the bad news: we live in a world of disposable jobs. The corporation's loyalty is owed to their shareholders, and that means any job is disposable if they can find a cheaper or more efficient way to get the work done.

The good news is that as a clear-headed professional, you can create a good offense with a strong defense, by having the tools to avoid the traumas of financial dislocation that come with an unexpected layoff.

Don't be too busy working to network

You can no longer afford to be too busy with your job to network. This job is a stepping stone, one of many that form a career, you need to guide that career with strategy that supports your well-being. Connected professionals have the opportunity to ask for, receive and offer help to each other over the years.

This connectivity also makes you visible to a wider audience when opportunity arises. While you are a disposable commodity to employers, think of your networks as interdependent: To a network of professional colleagues you are part of a web of people mutually committed to survival and success, so the well-being of each is in the best interests of all. You help each other whenever you can. For example, tell your network about those three job openings at your company; it might help someone. If it does, you get some kudos at work for taking the extra step -- win/win.

Just as your department and company have inner circles, so does your profession. The inner circle of your profession, those most committed and best connected, know each other through social networking and membership in professional associations; becoming part of it delivers both long- and short-term benefits to your career.

Social networking, through Linkedin.com or one of the many other networking sites, enables you to reach out into an almost limitless community of like-minded professionals, on a local or global basis. These contacts can help you grow professionally, acting as mentors and allies. They can also help you in a job search today, or one planned for the future, with introductions at their own companies or to the right people at other companies.

Begin by linking up with people you have worked with in the past, and then expand your network by joining special interest groups and connecting with others who share your professional interests.

These benefits make getting connected through LinkedIn, the premier networking site for professionals, one of the easiest and smartest career strategies for professional connectivity. There are many social networking sites, and it is probably a good idea to have a presence on more than one.

Besides LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and others should not be overlooked. You can also find extensive listings of networking sites by special interests, languages, sex, race and more by searching Wikipedia and keying in "social networks." You should also become a member in the local or regional chapter of a professional association. This offers similar benefits to social networking but on a smaller scale. However, association membership gives you at least a nodding acquaintance with the most committed and best-connected people in your profession and local area; these are the people who can most immediately help you with your career.

Be prepared

The most important skills you can develop in a world with zero job security to achieve and maintain success are those of job search and career management.

That starts with keeping your resume current. Reality is, you never know exactly when you will need to go into job-search mode and you don't want to have the added stress of having to create a resume and learn how to conduct a job search if you get blindsided by a layoff. You should create a killer resume or have one professionally written for you, and maintain it with regular updates. That way, you will be prepared for any possibility -- whether it's pursuing a promotion that comes up or an unplanned job search.

Keep your LinkedIn and other social networking profiles current and active posted, and maintain some involvement with your special interest groups. Headhunters live in these groups, and so should you: It's much better to get to know a headhunter and turn down an opportunity, than never to hear about it in the first place. As a working professional, you should also be mindful of what you post on your social networks you say you're using "just for fun" -- this election year taught us that inappropriate comments can cost jobs.

Even when happily employed, keep yourself registered (with an anonymous/sanitized resume) on appropriate job sites and resume banks. Save job opportunities you are notified about to a career management database. Even if that particular job isn't available next time you are looking, another one just like it might be.

Commit to a readiness plan:

  • Create and maintain a killer resume. Remember that an up-to-date resume can be useful in pursuing internal promotions as well as new jobs.
  • Nurture new professional contracts through social networks, because who you know increases what you know. The contacts increase your visibility, while the skills increase your credibility; and these are what a good professional brand is built on.
  • Keep your personal brand free of "digital dirt" that could have professional consequences.
  • Keep relevant job postings, because companies hire similar people every year.
  • Save contacts, resumes, job postings -- everything relevant to your career -- in a career management database. It will make navigating the twists and turns of a long career much easier and help keep your focus on what's best for you.

Your future is built with the steps you take today. Make this the time when you build the job search and career management skills that enable you to compete in a fiercely competitive job market.

About the author:

Martin Yate CPC
"Successful careers don't happen by accident"

An ex-Silicon Valley headhunter & HR Director of a publicly traded storage company, N.Y. Times bestseller, Martin Yate CPC, brings a lifetime of street-wise career management experience to his work. The Knock Em Dead career management books unfold a new and unique approach to getting what you want out of life rather than becoming a powerless drone trapped in some high-rise salt mine. With 17 career management books collectively published in 81 domestic and 63 foreign language editions, he is increasingly thought of as the father of the new career management. Perceptive, direct and witty you can join Martin here to change the trajectory of your life forever.
As Dun and Bradstreet says, "He's just about the best in the business."

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