Jim, What am I Doing Wrong? IS Professionals in the New Normal
As I write this post it is a balmy 72 degrees with clear skies over Tampa Bay. Yes, life is good. I drove down yesterday to meet with my protégé as a part of the USF College of Business Mentor Program. Yesterday was down-time, so I caught up with friends and family. It was an interesting afternoon and evening that perfectly framed the “new normal.”
Upon arrival I enjoyed lunch, a few beers and a cigar with friends. Shortly after the arrival of our beer and a brief toast, Mark asked; “Jim, what am I doing wrong?” Mark spent 25 years with a global technology company, followed by 5 years with a local governmental body. Now unemployed, he is seeking his next opportunity. Mark is most adept at directing large teams, but not close enough to the actual technology. He is finding it difficult to gain employment in the same line of work. I reminded him again that those jobs don’t exist anymore and that he must explore other options. My comment to Mark was clearly hyperbole, but not completely. As in most recessions, employers have reconfigured their overhead to the chagrin of highly compensated executives. This time around, technology has created more options for employers, particularly out-sourcing. Everyone has heard about activity moving to “the cloud.”
Later that evening I had dinner with relatives. Christopher, a recent honors graduate, is learning his new job. He is literally on the front lines, using technology to help management make better decisions. Christopher is making a good salary and has some excess funds to save and invest. He had a lot of questions about investing, so we talked about 401ks, IRAs, and the benefits of mutual funds in general and index funds in particular. We also talked a little about advancing his career skills. He is like a sponge, soaking it all in.
His father has a good, middle-management job with a global professional services company. He spoke about his relief to have passed a series of technical proficiency exams required by his employer. He clearly understands the importance of staying current in his career, so he welcomed the training, even if it was a bit unnerving. Interestingly, Mark, Christopher, and his father, are MIS/IT/IS professionals, and USF Alums. I can hardly think of better examples of the current employment situation.
I am reminded of two IS Professionals I met recently through a referral. Chris and Joe have backgrounds very similar to Mark but they decided to start a Consulting Group when they lost their jobs. These guys have a very clear understanding of the new normal, taking a proactive approach to achieve their career goals. They have developed a positioning strategy which they are diligently working to validate via client acquisition. As with any start-up, they are having their ups and downs. The key take-away is that Chris and Joe are in the game. They are learning how to be relevant to the market, making adjustments on the fly. I am confident that their abilities and tenacity will ensure their success. I hope to be helpful to them in this connection.
If you are going to be in the game, (my metaphor for gainful employment) be in the game! We live in a very competitive world which requires constant learning to find your niche and maintain a competitive edge. The game has changed in the new normal. You must adapt or plan to warm the bench.
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Jim Weber, President
New Century Dynamics Executive Search