Originally Published 05/30/2012
Experienced professionals need to learn how to search for new opportunities in a different way, because so many of the variables they know and with which they associate themselves have changed.
When I was a kid my family would usually escape the New York City summers by road-tripping it to some New England rental home near a lake or the shore, some woods and a bunch of sweet little hamlets for a week or two. Without fail, at least one roadside diner, lobster shack or family-run restaurant would set down a box or handful of crayons and paper placemats with a bunch of puzzles on them designed to keep us kids busy until the food arrived.
I have two brothers—one older, one younger—and invariably we’d compete to see who would solve the puzzles on their placemat first. Now, the maze was always my favorite because it seemed the simplest challenge, so I’d start there. I’d just look at the center of the maze and, with my eyes, backward engineer my way to the starting point; then I’d use my crayon to trace the trail back to the center. When my younger brother wondered aloud how I always seemed to get the maze right on the first try, I explained my approach to him. “That’s cheating,” he said. “Why?” I asked.
You’re welcome to decide for yourself whether this is, in fact, cheating when it comes to solving a maze, but I, for one, would still ask, “Why?” The answer is in plain sight: so why make it harder than it has to be to arrive at the correct answer? But, that’s a debate for another day or another blog altogether.
The point is: You have to know where you want to end-up to create a successful strategy that will get you there. That’s true whether you’re a business owner or a job seeker. What’s also true is that your past can reveal a lot about what works for you—backward engineering is a “solution strategy” that has served me, and my clients, extraordinarily well over the course of my entire career, and continues to do so.
But, the world has changed a lot in the intervening years since my childhood vacations, and it keeps on changing faster and faster. While some things may, indeed, stay the same, there are many things that simply do not. So, it’s just as critical to ensure your goals are in line with today’s marketplace and that the systems you put in place to advance your progress keep pace with the changing times.
Case in point
I continue to notice that a lot of middle management-level professionals in their late-30s-to-early-50s revert to prior job-seeking ways of thinking when looking for new employment opportunities, as though they can’t quite shake the standard definitions and job descriptions for careers that they grew up with, or assigned to themselves, or that were assigned to them in college or in their formative years just after graduating.
Even while they’re using all the modern social media tools to conduct and manage their networking and searches, they’re still thinking about career opportunities, job titles and keyword searches in the same old way they did before their last job and perhaps the job before that. But, that’s the past and, depending upon how long ago that last job search took place, the past probably doesn’t apply any more in today’s job market.
For so many in that age- and experience-range the traditional career categories have been redefined for a younger generation, or they’ve been completely obliterated and just don’t exist at all. Experienced professionals need to learn how to search for new opportunities in a different way, because so many of the variables they know and associate themselves with have changed. The opportunities that will suit their skills sets and level of experience won’t be found using outdated lexicons or strategies.
What do you think? Have you implemented a successful employment search using tried and true methods that have served you well throughout your career? Or, do you agree that it’s been difficult to navigate the new marketplace to find opportunities that mesh with your professional background, skills and interests?
Get Growing is a syndicated business. blog. Many posts are also published on business2community.com.