According to the research, the choices couldn’t be starker:
60 percent of all jobs lost in the last recession were in the middle range of incomes. They encompassed such occupations as construction, manufacturing and information and had median salaries of $13.84 to $21.13 per hour.
58 percent of the jobs created in the recovery have been in the lower range of pay. They encompassed retail sales, food preparation and home healthcare and had median wages of $7.69 to $13.83 per hour.
Now, let’s be clear. Retail sales, food preparation and home healthcare are all honorable ways of earning a living. However, if you aspire or need to earn a middle income wage, you must be able to qualify for and land jobs in other, higher paying occupations. And, the only way to make a home in that range is by first building a strong foundation.
To set that foundation, you will have to change the underlying assumption in your job search. Whether you last looked for a job 25 years ago or just week, you probably relied on what is best described as a “come as you are” strategy. You simply updated your resume and started networking because you believed that you would find a new job with the skills and knowledge you used in your old job.
That strategy will not work in today’s job market. Employers are facing fierce competition in both global and domestic markets, and those competitors are employing workers with ever better education and skills. The only way they can prevail in such an environment is by filling their openings with job seekers who bring a different assumption to their search for work. They want you to “come as you need to be” in order to make a real and sustained contribution to their success.
Come As You Need to Be
How do you prepare yourself to come as you need to be? You have to invest the time and effort to build up the health of your career.
Sure, you can keep visiting job boards and the career areas on corporate Web-sites. Absolutely, you can keep on adding connections on LinkedIn, friends on Facebook and followers on Twitter. But, let’s be frank. Without a simultaneous commitment to building up the strength, reach and endurance of your career, those actions are unlikely to establish your home in the upper income range.
So, even as you are executing your job search, also practice the rejuvenation of your credentials. In short, build “career fitness.” It involves seven different areas of activity:
Pump up your career cardiovascular system. The heart of your career is your occupational knowledge and skill level.
Strengthen your career circulatory system. The circulatory system of our career is your network of contacts and colleagues.
Develop all of your career’s muscle groups. The muscle groups of your career are the ancillary skills that enable you to expand the work situations in which you can contribute.
Increase your career’s flexibility and range of motion. The more adept you are at initiating and managing the changes in your career, the better the outcomes.
Work with winners. Identify and seek employment with those employers and colleagues who will support and assist your quest to excel on-the-job.
Pace yourself. Set aside the necessary time and space to regenerate the innovation and creativity you bring to work each day.
Stretch your soul. Invest the time and priority to use your talent – what you love to do and do best – for the benefit of others.
There are a number of specific actions you can take within each of those seven areas to fortify your career fitness. They range from taking a personal development course at your professional or trade association to relearning how to relax and recuperate away from work. No single action can prepare you to “come as you need to be,” but the sum of all seven can. And will.
The post-recession economy has created a bimodal distribution of opportunity. There’s a range of low paying occupations and a range of much higher ones. Where you are able to make your home depends upon how you come to your job search. And, how you come to your job search depends on how you come at the fitness of your career.
Thanks for reading,
Peter Weddle is the author of over two dozen employment-related books, including A Multitude of Hope: A Novel About Rediscovering the American Dream, The Success Matrix: Wisdom from the Web on How to Get Hired & Not Be Fired, WEDDLE’s 2011/12 Guide to Employment Sites on the Internet, The Career Activist Republic, and The Career Fitness Workbook: How to Find, Win & Hold Onto the Job of Your Dreams. Learn more at www.weddle.com.