All of the rules have changed. Okay, maybe not all of them but enough to make work a mystery. The things we learned in high school, university, and on the job are not what we need to know now. The adage “What got us here will not get us where we need to go” was never more true.
If you find yourself struggling to get a job – or keep your old one – it might be because you are playing by the old rules. There is no question the last two years have thrown everyone off course, and the new rule book has not been written yet.
In the absence of the new rule book, here are my thoughts on the five things you need to know (and do) to thrive at work.
If you find yourself struggling to get a job - or keep your old one - it might be because you are playing by the old rules. There is no question the last two years have thrown everyone off course, and the new rule book has not been written yet.
1. Letting Go Of The Old:
We must let go of doing what we have done in the past – we need to change (no, really!).
- The days of 35-year employment are gone. The average person in North America (including Presidents and CEOs) stays on the job for only three years. Employers know this and are hiring based on it. There is no loyalty on either side – even the army doesn’t expect it.
- When applying for a job, stop swearing long-term loyalty and tell the new company what you will do for them on the first day – and every day after.
- You are only staying for three years – don’t worry about a pension, you won’t be there to collect it. Change your long-term demands to short-term: Higher wages, more vacations, and anything else with a short-term payoff.
- Don’t be surprised if those around you are not that social. No one wants to be too friendly with anyone – after all, the maximum length of stay is three years, and who has the energy for that effort? Company bowling or softball team? Not a chance.
2. What You Did - Not Where
If you accept the first point (and you should), this next point should be self-evident. Those resumes that said where you worked and for how long (proving your loyalty) are gone. Employers really don’t care how long you were somewhere – they care what you accomplished.
That said, I keep seeing identical old resumes usually copied from the internet or suggested by a guidance counselor who hasn’t applied for a job in 20 years. Want a great career? Here is what you need to do.
- Throw out your resume if it is even vaguely close to being a “Chronological style.”
- Break your resume out into what you did – not where or when. Skills employers are looking for include tech, marketing, operations, finance, and sales. Show what you did and learned at the last job.
- For every one of the skills above, prove what you did. Show numbers, increased sales by 10%, introduced egaming into the marketing mix, etc, etc. Nothing demonstrates your skills better than numbers.
This one kills me. I have a liberal arts degree (PoliSci), and I spent five years getting the university experience. Sadly, none of it applies to what I have done in my career.
Today the world of university, for university’s sake, is gone. The students I see every day just want the skills, they want them fast, and they want to get out to work.
It is the same with employers – they want people who have a base set of skills and are willing and able to learn – fast.
- Upskilling is the way of the future. Employers don’t need you to have all the skills on day one – “Hire for attitude – train for skills.” Education isn’t confined to a four-year degree; it is what you need to do every day
- Be on a constant search for micro-credentials – those classes that take anywhere from a few hours to a few days, online or in person. Focus on what skills this job needs and go get them. The important thing is that you apply what you learn on the job – immediately.
4. Gig World
The dream used to be starting and finishing your career at the same company with regular promotions and a rock-solid pension. Yes, I used to believe in unicorns too. If those kinds of jobs ever existed, they are gone.
The world of work will see all of us, at various times, working in an office or remotely, alone or on a team, and almost always on some new project.
- Remember those micro-credentials. They will help you find a steady stream of gigs, but they will not be enough.
- Because where and how you will work will be in constant flux, you need to develop a set of soft skills second to none – creative thinking, adaptability, curiosity, manners, languages, and emotional intelligence. There is nowhere these won’t be needed in the future.
The final in our list of five? Companies are no longer impressed with the employee who comes in, does the routine from 9-5, and then hears home. You are only as good as what you did yesterday – it doesn’t matter if it is a job or a gig. There is no time, or room, for someone who is “just doing the job.”
Above all else, employers are looking for people who care as much about their company as the owner does.
- Think like an owner (even if you are only going to be there for three years.)
- If you WERE the owner, what would you do? How would you make things better? What would change? Once you know – get on with it – act like an owner.
I know – it is easy to make a list. The challenge is first believing and then doing something about it. The future is waiting – stop looking backward – you aren’t going that way.