Monday, December 10, 2018

What, Me Worry?

“What, me worry?” – Alfred E. Neuman

It seems like we have some nervousness settling into the U.S. economy.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down a few percentage points over the past few months.  Facebook, Apple and Google shares (three-fourths of the FANG indicator for the tech market) are all taking a bit of a beating.  We’re watching the process of Treasury Yields inverting, indicating concerns about the long-term debt market.  Folks are starting to speculate that we’re in the last stages of the current bull market, about to descend into a bear market and a recession.  Closer to home, I’m starting to see financial pundits predicting heavy job losses in 2019 as the economy begins to slow down.  WE SHOULD ALL BE PANICKING LIKE OUR HEADS ARE ON FIRE!

Let’s all take a breath and a step back for a minute.  I don’t worry too much about the job market and neither should you if you’re taking the right steps.  Sure, there are times when employers are competing for employees and other times when people are competing for scarce jobs.  But if you’re in the job market or the gig market at all, you should be taking the same steps regardless of the conditions around you.  Stop looking at the various market indicators and direct your energy towards investing in yourself.  The concepts are pretty basic:

1.    Have the right skills
2.    Advertise those skills
3.    Keep your network strong

Have The Right Skills

Even if you’re gainfully engaged in a job or a gig, checki job listings on a regular basis.  So you know what skills are in demand.  When you see a few thousand jobs for people with expertise in SteamingPile Architecture, you’ve identified a skill that’s in demand.

Once you’ve identified that skill, go learn it.  Maybe your current employer will support you.  Or maybe not.  Do it anyway, whether it’s free stuff online, a set of classes, or whatever.  Yes, this will consume some of your discretionary time. Consider it a worthwhile investment in yourself.

After you’ve learned that skill, go use it.  Look for opportunities in your current job or take on a side gig.  Either way, there is no better way to really get a skill than by applying it in a real-world situation.

Advertise Those Skills 

Once you’ve learned and applied those skills, advertise your newly-acquired expertise to the world. Update your online profile. Freshen up your resume.  Tell your peers what you’ve done.  Get the word out that you have a new tool in your toolbox. Do it now – don’t wait until you’re in the hunt for your next job or gig before you start advertising.  Waiting on this is like buying new running shoes halfway through the 100 yard dash.

Keep your network strong

Continually seek out opportunities to help people whenever you can, whether it’s a new acquaintance or someone you already know.  The very best way to build a network is to be sincerely try to help others.  Just try to live the Golden Rule and watch your network grow.  In all honesty, it took me a long time to figure this one out.  But I’m glad I did.

Admittedly, there is no rocket science here.  Only basic fundamental practices, most of which I know you've heard before.  But I can tell you that, as I've incorporated acting on these points into my own professional life, they have served me well in good times and bad.

So my advice in any market is the same.  Keep your skills sharp.  Make sure people know you have those skills.  Build your network.  You won’t have to worry about the economy.  And you’ll sleep better at night.

As always, comments and feedback are welcome.

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