The only two things that are certain in life are death and taxes (though death doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets). Most everything else in life has a certain element of instability or subjection to change, our employment being a prominent example.
Job security is something that most people desire. If a particular job or industry is prone to large fluctuations in employment rates, that may dissuade certain people from entering that field. Some still go for that kind of work though, and they do the best they can to keep their jobs as long as possible.
But even in positions that seem to be stable and secure, market forces still act and can change one’s job situation in a heartbeat. We all remember what happened during the Recession; as the housing bubble burst, multiple other industries started to fall like dominoes as well, and millions were thrown out of work.
Slowly, the economy has begun to recover from the Recession, and more people have begun to find work again. But not everyone has recovered, as labor force participation rates are still lower than when the Recession started, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In January 2007, the labor force participation rate was 66.4%. However, in October 2017, the latest statistics available to us, the rate is just 62.7%. That’s a large number of people that could be in the workforce, but are not. Indeed, many had simply given up looking for work after years of job hunting.
While the economy has slowly been recovering, we are still not at the point we were before the Recession, though that’s a good thing, because economic growth built upon a government-produced bubble is a recipe for disaster (a subject for another time).
In the future, there will be economic corrections, and there are going to be employees laid off from their jobs. It’s just a natural cycle of the economy. However, there are some things that individual workers can do to ease the blow of a possible lay off.
Skills, education, and references can only do so much for a person. A prospective employee needs to offer more than just those things for a job. Indeed, there are many people who have qualifications for the jobs that need to be filled, but they are missing something in many cases.
Indeed, a former employer of mine frequently said that one of the most common complaints he heard from CEO’s, even during the height of the Recession, is that they could not find good people to fill the jobs they had. Many interviewed for those positions, but they were just not right for the job.
So what is it that employers really need? What can workers do to ensure that whatever happens to the economy, they will have work? Mike Rowe offers us some sound advice.
In an opinion column for CNN, Rowe discussed an interaction he had with a friend of his, where she was constantly searching for "the right man" to date. Based on that conversation, he drew a parallel to job-searching.
Just as she was looking for “the right man,” we often look for “the right job.” We want something that will fit us just perfectly, so we might often turn down other work because it’s “not right.”
Well, Rowe says that this is the wrong approach. Rather than looking for something that’s “just right,” look for work, period.
Stop looking for the "right" career, and start looking for a job. Any job. Forget about what you like. Focus on what's available. Get yourself hired. Show up early. Stay late. Volunteer for the scut work. Become indispensable. You can always quit later, and be no worse off than you are today.
That's some truly unique and sound advice. In that particular paragraph, I want to latch onto two words that really get to the heart of the issue, though: Become indispensable.
In whatever position you currently hold, become the employee that your superiors cannot afford to lose. Be the employee who goes above and beyond the rest of your coworkers. Ask what things need to be done, do extra around the workplace, ask for extra work hours, etc.
Whatever you do, do it with excellence.
If you make yourself indispensable, where the company that employs you recognizes the value that you bring to the table, it is less likely that you will be laid off. However, even if the company has to downsize, and you are laid off, your reputation as an indispensable employee will follow you to whatever other jobs you apply for.
If your reputation is being an indispensable employee, one with the best work ethic and attitude and spirit, that is what will keep you employed. Skills, education, and reference certainly help, but without the catalyst of indispensability as an employee, finding and keeping work becomes all the more difficult.
If you set yourself apart from all others, that is what will attract prospective employers to you.