Executive Career & Job Search Resources

adviceMy predictions from the 1990s and beyond about the disruption of “careers” and “work” have been coming true at an increasing pace, so here I’ll offer a quick retrospective of key trends as well as numerous how-to resources for using these disruptions to your advantage. Disruptions change the rules. Although most people don’t like “the rules” at times, we all take comfort in them because we have a clue about how to manage and get what we want. No one likes to feel clueless, but that’s how disruption causes most people to feel, so they try to avoid it. However, by facing the world head on and understanding the profound economic and social changes that are happening, you can see where the proverbial puck will be and skate there before most other people. Let’s go!

Key Disruptive Trends to Watch for Your Career

  • The Industrial Economy is ending; it featured large organizations, long product life cycles and unprecedented wealth. What we used to call “stability.” The new Knowledge Economy will feature even more wealth, but only after a period of significant disruption.
  • Fast Company [magazine] sure called this one, during Web 1.0. Free agency, rather than “lifetime employment,” is rapidly becoming the default. James Altucher gives a poignant updated version, inviting you to quit your job. Read it, he’s on the money. You won’t want to, but do it anyway. Remember the puck.
  • Digital social networks are changing the economics of relationships. I have been in professional services for 25 years, and I hail from a medical family. I like to think that people are rational. However, due to client work in social business and research into evolutionary psychology, I now appreciate that two thirds of all human communication is “social.” Anything that significantly changes sociality will be HUGE for human beings; it will disrupt most human habits and institutions. This may sound like an exaggeration, but it isn’t if you really consider putting sociality “on steroids.” But 99.9% of all people don’t understand social networks; it is as if people are freezing, they’re in a storeroom full of matches, but they don’t know how to strike a match.
  • Today, people are treating “social networks” as resumes, “content,” “pictures.” But content is a supporting factor in social networks, which produce the most pleasure and value when people use them to interact. This is the freezing in the storeroom of matches.
  • Knowing how to use digital social networks to interact is mostly the whole ball game. I’ve included the best how-to resources I know below.

Career Baggage

  • One thing I’ve learned during my studies of evolutionary psychology is that plants and animals don’t like risk. They like to learn what works and they don’t deviate from what works. From an evolutionary perspective, that’s fine during periods that aren’t dynamic, during which “conditions” don’t change much. We are exiting such a period and moving into a much more dynamic period.
  • We all have a choice for how we deal with this disruption.
  • Hagel, Tapscott et al (and Ronald Coase) explain the microeconomics of the firm (I extrapolate this to all large organizations, including governments) and why we’re not going back. This gets academic, but use it for support if you need to convince yourself of the disruption that you may feel but don’t want to accept.
  • The baggage is the animal in us that doesn’t want to let go of the old rules. Evolution is the interplay between living things and the environmental conditions in which they live. Sometimes profound changes challenge us. That’s when we need discipline and courage. That’s now.
  • Altucher bangs on “the media” and recommends to stop consuming it. I agree with his premise, but specifically because 1) it focuses people on things they cannot change; 2) it makes people feel powerless; 3) it’s not a disinterested party, media sells, and truth often takes a back seat to survival; you have certainly noticed that “media” survival is not assured; 4) it defocuses people from things they can change.
  • A big part of this is that media, politicians et al want to believe that “the economy will improve” because people want to believe that and “leaders” want to be reelected. But that’s not true.

There’s nothing wrong with the economy. It’s a different kind of economy. People who wish for the old Industrial Economy will be disappointed. Forever.

  • Focus on things you can change. See below.

Career Action Steps

  • In the Knowledge Economy, people will create the most value, not by things as in the Industrial Economy, but by [customer] experience. It will be a much more dynamic economy, and faster moving. Organizations will become smaller and “jobs” shorter. There will be fewer “permanent” jobs because employment is too inflexible the way it is practiced now.
  • Therefore, reorient yourself away from organizations—to people. People endure. If you are connected with someone in a meaningful way, you are connected no matter what business cards you’re each carrying now. You need to build a network with purpose. This is probably the most important thing you need to do. It’s your key survival strategy.
  • In the Knowledge Economy, you need to get your knowledge out there. This is difficult for many people to accept for several reasons. Namely: in the Industrial Economy, knowledge was hoarded, people gained power by restricting. That used to work in many settings. Now, if you’re not sharing your knowledge, you become irrelevant. Second, people are afraid to be ridiculed. This is serious. Public speaking is more feared than death by many people. You have to get over this.
  • [update] Connected with this, specialize according to business context, your role, your personal mission. Use scenarios (see below, “Resumes and CV..”). Also, here’s a fantastic and engaging post on specializing by Penelope Trunk.

Career Resources

  • Altucher’s Techcrunch post; follow the links in bullet points toward the end “These posts will help you quit your job,” which help with baggage, emotions and practical how-to tips.
  • I recently published a free online “Executive’s Guide to Social Business,” which is a structured program for outperforming your peers on LinkedIn, Twitter and others. It features small chunk activities that are designed to be actionable. Share it with your friends, too. Take it in small steps, and take satisfaction in your progress.
  • The Kellogg presentation & webcast, Using Social Media to Drive Job and Consulting Opportunities. Video | presentation
  • The job search posts here on the Executives Guide tend to be short and actionable. One of my favorites is “Resumes and CVs Do Not Apply: Use Scenarios”
  • Less structured, but here’s my trove of job search and career links.
  • Penelope Trunk offers a take-no-prisoners perspective on job search.

Please share your thoughts and favorite career resources using comments (below)!

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