What exactly is going on in today’s workforce? Is it as tough as all the bloggers make out, or are they just being lazy?
Well, it depends on who you are. Over the last 30 years or so, automation and the outsourcing of jobs to other countries have led to a rich-poor divide within the middle class itself. Some middle-class professionals have done really well for themselves. They’re the managers, the programmers, and the engineers. They’re the people whose jobs can’t be done by machine yet, and can’t be done by people working for lower wages overseas.
But there’s another group of people in the middle class who are struggling. They’re the people who used to hold the professional blue collar factory jobs and who used to carry out clerical functions in busy offices. These people have seen demand for their labor dry up as a consequence of automation and globalization.
Depending on which of these two groups you fall into will determine how you feel about the current job market. Is it harsh and unforgiving? Or do you regularly find work?
It turns out that for the majority of people, things in the job market aren’t getting much better. Sure, there are some high-flying professionals whose skills are in serious demand, thanks to the rise of things like big data. But for everybody else, the competition is tough.
When it comes to finding a job, therefore, it’s important to take the bull by the horns. Here are some tips for getting ahead in your profession.
Network To Get Work
Some people get their foot through the door with excellent interviews and resumes, but most of the individuals who are offered work by companies have some connection to them, especially in professional circles. The key to all of it is the simple act of networking. Networking can take place anywhere. It can be a casual conversation with a coworker or sending a message to somebody in your industry via LinkedIn.
Using other people is a major step to helping you achieve your career goals. Once someone knows who you are and they’ve chatted to you in an informal setting, they’re much more likely to want to hire you at the interview stage. Many people find that they become a target for headhunters, simply because of their networking activities, swapping business cards and showing interest in organizations other than their own. Successful professionals often find themselves the subject of name dropping, and they do this by following up on their interactions with people, either on social media or LinkedIn.
Become An Expert In Your Field
To really be a successful professional, you have to escape the bounds of the organization you work for. You don’t want to be seen as somebody who needs to be coddled by a firm to be productive. Instead, you want to be viewed as somebody who is kindly—and temporarily—lending their services to a particular company but who can be snapped up at any time by another company, should a better offer come along.
Becoming a subject matter expert, or somebody who is very knowledgeable about a particular facet of business is an essential ingredient to becoming one of these roving professionals. You want to be able to convince the people who work in your industry that you are a go-to person for a particular problem.
Building up in-depth knowledge obviously requires a great deal of learning. A good first place to start is to explore learning options within your organization to see if there are any qualifications you can add to your resume. Often you’ll find that organizations are keen to provide training in-house to boost the quality of their workforce. Many of these qualifications come with accolades that help to confirm your status as a leading expert in the field.
The next step is to do your own research. If you can, try to turn your work expertise into a passion project and show a personal interest in what you do. Everybody knows that people who love what they are doing are usually much better at it than people who learn the bare minimum because they have to in order to earn an income.
If you can show infectious enthusiasm for what you’re doing, other people higher up the food chain will take notice. They’ll see their own passion reflected in you, and you’ll be much more likely to get offers for better-paid positions.
Look Good, Feel Even Better
One of the main purposes of career advising is to help people look good and feel great so that they come across in a positive light to the people around them. According to Darlene Price, the author of a book on how to converse with colleagues at work, professionals still need to focus on how they look, no matter how professionally talented they might be. She says that in the world of business, people don’t often have time to judge you other than on the way that you look, so it’s good to look your best, even though it says nothing about your value as a human being.
You don’t have to spend wads of cash, she says. It’s possible to get cheap, tailor-made suits, from places like Shanghai for less than $100.
There’s also evidence from science that looking good changes your behavior in ways that help your career progress. A study by the Kellogg School of Management out of Northwestern University found that people who look good have higher self-confidence and are better able to get the job done at work. They were also more likely to be taken seriously by their colleagues, independent of their position in the company.
Have A Game Plan
Finally, some professionals recommend that professionals think about their careers as a game of war. It’s all about strategy and maneuver and trying to get yourself into the best position possible for moving up. Experts suggest having a short term, two-to-five year game plan, as well as a longer term 10-year strategy.