Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Specialists, generalists and navigating the path to career advancement 4: taking a more 21st century approach 3

Posted in career development, job search, job search and career development by Timothy Platt on April 16, 2014

This is my fourth installment to a series on the changing nature of specialist and generalist career path options, and both as their choice impacts on job search and the immediate here-and-now of employment and employability, and on longer term career advancement opportunity (see my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, postings 359 and following for Parts 1-3.)

I introduced a term of art for jobs and careers development in Part 3: jobs and careers metaskills, and I begin this installment from there. Workplace skills, for the most part focus on the immediate here and now, and on offering competitive value to employers and prospective employers for meeting their immediate here and now, and their imminent workplace needs. That certainly holds for jobs-level skills. Career-level skills require that you step back to consider a wider, fuller perspective. Jobs and careers metaskills fit into that wider perspective, but with an explicit focus on change and uncertainty in the overall jobs market and economic contexts and on how employment and even employability per se are entering a long phase of fundamental structural change. It is no longer sufficient to assume or to seek to prepare for the impact and consequences of cyclical change as the economy goes through its cyclical ups and downs, and employment demand and unemployment rates shift accordingly. We have entered a period of fundamental, permanent change in what constitutes employability (see Part 2 for its references on this.) And that brings me to the question that I implicitly raised at the end of Part 3 as my area of discussion for this series installment:

• How do you apply the approach that I raise here, in this series so as to improve your chances of securing and retaining jobs and when developing and pursuing more consistently employed and fulfilling careers?

And I stated in this context that I would go on from addressing that to discuss generalists and their rapidly changing and evolving roles, and both in the workplace and in individual job and career pursuits. I will begin with that question. And I begin that by referring back to a specific jobs search series that I initially posted beginning almost exactly four years ago, with its first installment going live April 15, 2010: Finding Your Best Practices Plan B When Your Job Search Isn’t Working (see my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development, postings 56 and following for its Parts 1-17.) And for purposes of this series, I would focus here on the hands-on exercises and on their supporting discussions on understanding the job market and what you can offer there, that I outlined in its installments:

Part 2: self-assessment,
Part 3: targeting your job market and
Part 4: searching and keeping track of where and how.

I wrote in that series of the need to look widely, and with that taking you outside of your currently familiar and outside of your perhaps inertia-driven comfort zones. I write here that when employability itself is being rewritten and redefined, none of us can assume that we have the luxury of only looking for new job and career opportunities at times of our choosing – when we are choosing to look for new work opportunity.

• We need to cultivate and develop a practice of always looking and perhaps especially when we might feel the most comfortable and secure in our current jobs and careers and in our current here and now.

Review that entire job search series and try out all of its exercises. Parts 5-9 discuss, for example, resume writing as a very carefully planned out and executed marketing exercise, for showing others how you offer competitive value that would be of value to them and their businesses.

And as a second core, foundational-resource tool set, I suggest that you systematically business social network, and all of the time – once again, not just when you already face immediate need for new contacts or for the insight and leads that they might be able to offer you. If you wait until you already need effective networking contacts before you begin networking, you begin too late as you will have no momentum or focus in this when you need them the most. In this regard, I cite my four part series: Jumpstart Your Networking (see its listings and links at the top of Social Networking and Business.)

• Be organized and systematic in what you do in your networking, and in your ongoing study and analysis of your industries and the work climate that you face, and of what is coming that might impact upon your employers and would-be employers – and on you. This is not about doing anything perfectly: perfection per se is a mirage; it is about being effectively that much more competitive in the workplace and in the jobs market by doing this better and more systematically and with fewer and smaller gaps where they do arise, than your competition does.
• Never take yourself or your current work context or situation for granted, and whether they are good as of now or bad as of now.
• And look at what you have to offer, and what you can develop that you could offer with clear and open eyes. Feedback from networking contacts who you respect and trust, can be invaluable here.

But with even the most careful planning and execution, the unexpected and the disruptively new and novel can and with time will arise – and in our current and developing work climate we have to expect that to happen at a rapid pace across the jobs market in general.

• What should you do if the worst happens and you suddenly find yourself out of work, and with a compelling need to make even fundamental changes in the specializations that you do practice?

I am going to discuss that in my next series installment, and in that context will look into the new and emerging generalist role. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3 and at the first directory page and second, continuation page to this Guide.

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