Need a job? Create it!
“You may ask yourself, what is that beautiful house?
You may ask yourself, where does that highway lead to?
You may ask yourself, am I right, am I wrong?
You may say to yourself, my god, what have I done?”
– Lyrics from, “Once in a Lifetime” by Talking Heads
When I think about what crazy, disorienting times these are for job seekers I can’t help but recall the lyrics from this song by the Talking Heads.
Are you, or someone you know in the midst of a job search? Then you know what I mean! It really is a brave new world.
..Does it ever make you wonder how we got here? And, more importantly what we can do about it?
There are certainly a lot of crazy smart people out there who can provide a very thorough (and quite possibly mind-numbing) explanation for all this. But who has time for that? As an average-smarts person here is my simple-ish take on it in a minute or less.
In a nutshell, a couple big things happened over the last several years that permanently changed the job market.
- The economic recession forced companies everywhere to be more efficient. At the same time, rapid advances in technology enabled them to do more with less. Less equipment. Less people. Less physical space. And now, even though the economy is improving these same companies are continuing to stay lean and mean. The result is that the high wage, middle-skilled jobs that fueled the middle class for the last generation are disappearing. Many white-collar jobs have either been outsourced or now require more skills than before. At the same time many blue-collar jobs have been automated.
- The other thing that’s changed is this. A generation ago a person looking for a job was hired based on “what they know.” But that was when access to information wasn’t as easy as it is today. Now, thanks to the Internet and mobile, Internet connected devices information is readily accessible by almost anyone, anywhere. As a result, today it matters far less “what you know”. Instead, the value to an employer is in “what you can do with what you know”. It means you need to be able to solve problems creatively. You need to be able to ask the right questions. You need to be innovative.
I know that for a lot of people all this sounds really scary. But the reality is that the decline in industrial labor isn’t changing. So, we need to. We need to better position ourselves to survive and succeed.
Technology may be the reason many traditional jobs have been eliminated but it also presents incredible opportunities for anyone who’s motivated. If you’re motivated to learn and grow, if you’re persistent and willing to take a risk, in many ways success has never been easier. Easy access to information and affordable technology has lowered the barriers to entry. This makes it cheaper and easier for each of us to create, to build, to distribute, to express ourselves and to find an audience.
Do you have a product that you want to sell to an audience worldwide? Just create a website and a PayPal account, then post information about your product on an online marketplace like Ebay or Etsy and voila, you’re in business. Maybe, you want to be an author but you don’t have a publisher? Now, you can use an online service to self publish. Do you want to be on TV but you don’t have a TV network beating down your door? Create your own show and put it online. There are a lot of people who have already done that and are earning six figure salaries broadcasting from a webcam in their living room. But hey, if that doesn’t work, so what? Try something else. Don’t over-think it. New opportunities and low barriers to entry for new players to enter markets means you could be one of them. You can create your next job. In fact, you may have to!
Now get after it!
..This much I know.