If I were 25, or even 35, I would consider doing these things…

Some of you may believe that I have lost my mind when you read the title of this post, but I wanted to find a good hook to get you to jump in and read what I am thinking about the future of the job market.  I have seen many changes in my 30+ years in the workforce, but the more some things change, the more they stay the same.  Let me share a few thoughts that are top of mind with you today.

  1. Communication skills are more important today than ever before
    Being able to communicate in verbal and written formats has always been important, but these skills are more important today than ever before.  Before you ask why, consider this; how often do we now form our opinions or make decisions solely on a conversation or the review of a document that someone has produced?  Knowing this should only encourage those in the workforce to really spend time learning how to speak and write effectively and efficiently.  The impression we make in person is still very important, but you will never get that face to face if you don’t do a good job on the verbal and written first.
  2. Knowing more about cultures other than your country is essential
    Americans have a distinct advantage that our country provides so many opportunities because of the size and diversity of our land.  That same advantage is a huge disadvantage for most of us when it comes to understanding and working with the rest of the world.  Drive 300 miles in America and you may have crossed one state line, or possibly two.  Drive the same distance in Europe    or in Central America and you will cross over into another country.  Think about that.  We find it interesting to hear how people may speak differently in America’s regions, but crossing a border in another continent has much larger implications.  About one in four Americans can hold a conversation in another language and about one in five speaks another language at home.  Half of the citizens in Europe can hold a conversation in another language.  The difference is staggering and has many implications for our ability to work abroad and do business abroad.
  3. The internet and wireless networks connect everything
    When I grew up many years ago we used the term “the phone company” and then we became accustomed to “cable television”.  Cell phones took root in the early 1990’s and then the wireless (cell) phone integrated with the PC to provide a data device.  At the same time the Internet became a mainstay in most homes and the usages of the ‘net included voice communication and now entertainment.  The concept of a phone company now makes no sense as does the concept of discrete disks holding entertainment media (CD, DVD, etc.) because we can obtain this same data through the ‘net or through wireless means.  Think of the implications of those who built their careers on the phone or cable TV.  They are now dinosaurs, just like the slide rule.  The next victim will be mail service and the postal service.  We don’t need them…
  4. We are all “free agents”
    My parents, like most from their generation, worked for one or two employers during their entire lifetime.  This has evolved into more frequent job changes for the boomers, and it is now becoming more of a revolution where more and more of us are     free agents, selling ourselves to whomever and whatever we want based on the market and our needs.  Some of you will  say “not me” and believe that you have a secure job.  Remember this; there is no job security unless you create it.  Every employee is a number on a balance sheet or a P&L in someone’s office and there is not absolute promise of employment for anyone, period.  That may keep some of you up at night just thinking about it.

When you read the title and then finish my four points you may say that it would be better to be at the end of the career rather than the front end.  The reason I think being at the beginning of your career is that there is so much opportunity for those who read and agree, or adapt to, the four points I have made.  No one owes you anything and you will be best served if you take good care of yourself and prepare for the world of work and business as it is, and will be.

Do you agree?  With which points?

I am interested in your thoughts, even if you disagree.