Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Bringing the job market and marketplace into focus – Part 1: identifying sources of opportunity in change

Posted in job search and career development by Timothy Platt on July 21, 2010

I have been developing a Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development from my earliest postings in this blog and much of it has focused on job search and on addressing the needs of people out of work and looking. My most recent series specifically addressing this has focused on Plan B job searches for people who have been looking for a significant period but without success (see postings 56 through 72 in the Guide.)

Developing and using more effective tools and approaches for systematically carrying through on a job search can only help, but they can only go so far, and especially when the job market stays so limited and contracted as it has been and for over two years now and with no clear end in sight.

There are obvious reasons for this contraction in opportunity to employment, with the recession we have been going through in the United States and globally affecting businesses in all industries. Markets shrank and are just beginning to really rebound. But perhaps more importantly, money has become scarce and difficult for businesses to acquire as business loans that they could use to expand into new opportunity – essential liquidity is still scarce. This has limited the ability of businesses to produce and that has meant reduced hiring, even if the worst of the layoffs are over now.

But I would argue that this is only part of the story, and even if it is the part that gets the most press. The bubble bursts in real estate and other markets and the failure of so many firms in the financial industry did lead to massive downsizing of national and global workforces, but this in many respects just accelerated the timing and pace of what would have been a significant reorganization of the workforce at the very least, and even if the recession had not taken place as it did.

I have been running two series that I would bring to your attention in this context:

Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time, and
Reexamining the Fundamentals

and both deal with an emerging groundswell of change, and both in the communications and computing technologies that we use and take for granted, and in the increasingly globally interconnected marketplaces we live in. Change that started out as simply quantitative and evolutionary in nature has been approaching a tipping point in becoming truly qualitative in nature and revolutionary, and this is the type of transition that massively, fundamentally affects businesses, marketplaces and economies – and job markets and individuals and their families.

I usually switch between series on an ongoing basis and have new installments for several coming up on alternate days. Occasionally I post several installments for a series in a row and I will be doing that now with a series of 14 postings coming out in rapid succession examining the underlying changes that I write of here, that have started to affect the job market as a whole. I will be organizing this set of postings into Reexamining the Fundamentals as I finish posting them.

This type of revolutionary change has happened before, in the United States for example with a transition from a largely rural and agrarian society to an industrial one and we have already seen the first major waves in a transition from an industrial and manufacturing society to an information society, with the dislocations that brought with it in what types of jobs can be available and in what numbers and where. We are facing the emergence of a new dislocating reorganization of marketplaces and economies that will have at least an equal level of impact on businesses and institutions, and on individual employees and their families and in a sense our recent economic downturns have simply accelerated what was already a developing trend and made its impact sharper, and with less time and opportunity to adapt. The businesses and marketplaces that come out of our Great Recession will be different than the ones that went into it, and for more reasons than simple reestablishment of regulatory order to limit the impact of short term greed and foolishness to those who practice them.

I am also starting this series on Bringing the Job Market and Marketplace into Focus and I will focus in that on how the job market itself is changing and with a goal of finding better ways to thrive in it. In this, a clearer understanding of how the job market is changing, and not just in short term scale, may be as important as having better job search skills and approaches.

I will look in this series into opportunities in startups, and in changing industry you seek employment in, and at a number of other factors that may or may not be on the table and under consideration for any given job seeker. To look ahead for a few seconds, just considering startups – yes, overall more jobs are created in small and emerging businesses than in large, fully established businesses, and small businesses have traditionally accounted for a massive percentage of the overall economy in many if not most countries. But there are a lot of issues to consider as both pros and cons in deciding whether a startup would be right for you – and either for building your own startup or working for one. My goal in this series is to at the very least provoke some thinking and to share some information to think about. (See also Startups and Early Stage Businesses.)

I will post my second installment in this series soon after finishing the 14 on reconsidering the fundaments and I will be adding this series into the Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development along with this posting. I invite comments, questions and feedback.

There are new and emerging sources of opportunity even as some of our more traditional pathways to employment and workplace value are becoming more reduced in the potential they offer. My goal here is in helping you to identify some of these potentially more active areas that would work for you.

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