Written by Chuck McConnell, Managing Partner, Stewart, Cooper & Coon, Inc.
Edits and additional comments by Fred E. Coon, CEO , Stewart, Cooper & Coon, Inc.
The Rules Have Changed
Working world guidelines are changing rapidly. Many of us already know this because we have experienced firsthand the implications of those changes. Career ladders are disappearing. Upward mobility is a luxury of the recent past. Job security is all but totally gone. We know this intellectually, but emotionally it can be hard to swallow – especially if you’ve spent the better part of your career working under one set of rules only to find that everything you believed to be true no longer applies.
The Myth of Job Security.Up until about 10 years ago, there was a covenant between employees and employers: Security in exchange for loyalty and hard work. If you were a good soldier who did what you were told and followed the rules, you could expect a paycheck for life, a substantial pension and maybe even a set of top-line bling at the end of your term of service.
The Covenant Has Been Broken. There are no more entitlements. No jobs for life. Few pension plans. No gold watches. In a buyer’s market, the only two things that employers seem to care about are (1) bottom-line-contributing, transferable skills, and (2) the promise of delivering profitable results. Everything else in your stellar career track is interesting but doesn’t mean much of anything at the negotiating table.
Multiple Job Changes. The Bureau of Labor statistics estimates that the average working American will change careers 5-8 times over the course of a lifetime and have an untold number of jobs. Obviously, none of us can afford to rely on employers, who are themselves plagued by instability, to take responsibility for individual career paths. No matter how hard you work or how good you are at your work, you can still be the next victim of an executive level layoff or reorganization. Even if you manage to survive the cutbacks, you can find yourself doing twice as much work for the same amount of pay – in other words working harder but enjoying it less. It is clear that the workplace is undergoing a massive transformation that is changing both who we are and how we work. We are in the midst of an evolving global economy where it is commonplace to do business with several other countries simultaneously and not even leave our offices. Our workplaces are changing, too. Industries that were once the exclusive domain of males have been transformed by gender and cultural diversity. Authoritarian (and sometimes patriarchal) cultures are disappearing. Teamwork and participative management are now highly valued.
Technology and Jobs Are Being Consolidated and Outsourced. Technology is clearly one of the driving forces behind this constant state of change. As it continues to catapult us into the Information Age, entire industries–not to mention individual organizations and careers–are being transformed by its power. As we scramble to work with a whole new vocabulary of technology, electronic communications and the portable Internet are changing how we work and the changes will continue into the foreseeable future.
The Role of the Career Campaign Director (CD)
The New Workplace. Part of the CD role is to help clients understand the complexities of this new workplace from both a macro perspective, as well as the impact these changes may have on individual careers and lives. Consider, for example, changes in the banking industry (or any industry that has been deregulated). The pattern of change is clear. First, the industry deregulated in the name of free market capitalism. Deregulation led to breakups and breakouts, followed by industry consolidation in the name of efficiency. Technology made it easier to automate functions and increase individual work unit effectiveness so that the Big Fish were able to swallow up the Little Fish. Suddenly, banks didn’t need as many people on the payroll. Whole departments got outsourced. Contract workers (who didn’t receive benefits) replaced permanent employees. Voila – an industry transformed. Down the road, consumers may miss their neighborhood bankers or demand the return of more personal service, but things will never go back to the way they were. Technology has changed that forever.
The public sector has also been affected. Once a bastion of security, it, too, is seeing the effects of technology, competition, and consolidation. Let’s look briefly at the research librarian’s profession, by way of example. Librarians (now known alternatively as Information or Media Specialists) were once the bookworms of the job market whose domain was largely schools and public libraries. Today, these Information Specialists also occupy executive positions in the world of business and commerce as well as academia and government. Their product line has expanded, too. Once viewed as low-tech roles, today’s IT executives work in worlds that seemed out of reach a decade ago. It is a virtual as well as a very real world of instant access to information that creates opportunities and challenges for all in a career search.
This technology transformation can be a bonanza for some executive careers and a disaster for others. Clearly, the new career search paradigm requires new skills, tech-smart strategies and new tactics to meet demands in the executive marketplace.
Need For A Fresh Perspective. While most of us are acutely aware that along with the technical tides that push all of us into uncharted territory, lost job security presents additional sources of angst…and it isn’t clear what the erosion of employment anchors ultimately means for any of us. We do know that it definitely requires a new mentality–a mentality that some experts have described as “You, Inc.” You, Inc. means that, in the absence of an employer to guide and manage your career, you have to manage your own career like it’s a company of one. You are responsible for your own development. You need to take responsibility for building your own skills, making sure you stay competitive, promoting your own talents, securing your own finances and developing your own support network.
Stewart, Cooper & Coon CDs counsel clients to understand, position and market themselves to capitalize on the changes inherent in this–and the future–economy. The skilled Campaign Director understands how to make use of these dynamic changes to your advantage and to further your individual long-term career success and satisfaction.
Career Campaign Directors Are Excellent Mentors. Just when you need a mentor most, you may be discovering that they’re hard to come by these days. Because so many people today are confused, anxious and overworked, it can be difficult to find someone who has the time, executive-search wisdom and inclination to take you under their wing. Given the reality of change and age discrimination, many of the people who once upon a time made great mentors are themselves in need of mentoring. With so much to learn in such a period of rapid change–and everyone scrambling to keep abreast of technology–it makes perfect sense to seek out a competent professional career advisor who understands the complexities of the job market and has the time, energy and desire to coach and mentor you throughout the search process.
Graduate schools get us well prepared for the demands of the executive workplace. However, they seldom teach us how to make good career decisions. A CD within an executive career campaign program is as an investment in yourself. It is a substantial and lasting gift you can give yourself, to utilize the knowledge of people who know how to advise, support and direct you to your next executive position.
Just as you hire a lawyer to handle your legal problems, a CPA to help manage your finances and a physician to keep your body working, bringing in a skilled CD can help you manage your career. As experts in the executive career marketplace, they are the ones who are best-prepared to help you master its challenges, nuances and obstacles.
Although every client is unique, our CDs have one focus–to help executive-level career seekers to develop long-range, meaningful, successful employment. To accomplish that goal, they work with a flexible, virtual process that both relates to individual needs while remaining true to the Stewart, Cooper & Coon time-proven process and methodology. I encourage you to visit our web site and explore our successes, our testimonials from our placed executive clients and the backgrounds of our highly skilled Career Campaign Directors… all leading to SC&C’s promise of strengthening your individual campaign to reach your next executive level position.