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Top six ways to weather the employment storm

Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, everything about employment, the workforce, job hunting, job prospects and careers is changing.  And it will keep on at a breakneck pace most of us will likely struggle to keep up with. 

We tell ourselves that if we work diligently we’ll keep our jobs and hopefully receive the periodic  raise or occasional promotion.  This message is comforting but far from realistic.  For many, security is shaky right now, making it almost impossible to predict where one’s career will be in the next year, much less the next five.

With companies doing what they can to avoid hiring full-time employees, job seekers have adapted quickly.  For example, they’ve developed multiple income streams, become consultants, taken project work and started their own companies.  Some reports predict that by 2020, 40 percent of the workforce will be comprised of freelancers.   With the paradigm shifting so quickly from the employer/employee relationship to a model that barely allows for the word “employee”, how does one weather the storm of such a rapidly changing employment landscape?

Here is a list of key traits to help you not only survive but thrive in an era of career and workplace uncertainty.

Adapt or fall behind.  Everything is moving at a record pace.  Not only should you move with the flow but think several steps ahead.  Change courses rapidly if necessary.  Don’t take one job but always be on the lookout for new opportunities and supplemental income streams.

Never get too comfortable.  You are always a work in progress.  Look for the opportunity to create and re-define your work life, your next “job” and re-invent yourself when necessary.  Accept the fact that you should be experiencing growing pains and steep learning curves (frequently).  You are the product.  Embrace the uncertainty.  Promote yourself accordingly and understand that your role is always changing.

Become the problem solver.  Look at where there is a problem not being addressed.  Win opportunities by positioning yourself as the person with the solution.

Invest in yourself and pay it forward.  Stop being lazy and quit telling yourself you don’t have what it takes to radically change the way you conceptualize your work life.  You have an obligation to yourself to take charge of your career.  Young people with an entrepreneurial mindset are already starting to think in this manner and don’t want jobs but want to create a future filled with opportunity and joy for the work that they do.  And they expect themselves to play a big role in serving and helping others.

Set aside time for creativity.  Creativity means something different for each individual and you know best what feeds this often overlooked area.  Let yourself dream and consider “What Ifs”.  When you feel stuck either in your career or job search, the creative process will help you tap into new ideas and surprisingly viable solutions.

Pick yourself up rapidly if you have a misstep.  Get back into the saddle quickly.   Have faith that you will figure things out.  There is no time to agonize and beat yourself up over what you would call a failure.  But force yourself to analyze why your last project/venture/idea/job interview/work situation etc. didn’t pan out and learn from your mistakes.

The big lesson to learn here is that there is no security.  Adaptability and flexibility are the key requirements of the rapidly evolving workplace.  Make the shift so that you are less dependent on one source of income.  Break away from the old, rigid patterns of thinking which used to dictate that a degree guarantees a good job, and hard work leads to success and a comfortable retirement.

This manner of thinking is the surest way to end up in an endless succession of jobs where you settle and compromise your values or the recipe for major depression (or both).  End your fear-based and naïve thinking so you always have as many challenging and exciting work options as possible.

And when things inevitably shift towards the negative which they will from time to time, you’ll always be prepared to deal with these difficult events by having other income-generating projects already lined up.  You’ll also recognize that the solid problem solving and coping skills you developed to help deal with the uncertainty are some of the most rewarding of all, making the growing pains worth it in the end.

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