Many writers, especially journalists, like to make predictions around this time of year. Of course, a prediction holds about as much value as a fallen leaf; you rake it up with the others and forget about it.
I contemplated writing a list of job market predictions for 2010, but came to realize that a list of five things employers and job seekers should do would be a more nourishing helping of food for thought.
(1) Job seekers and potential job seekers (i.e., everyone) should continually update their resumes.
No exceptions! Most job seekers don't write a resume until they need a job. Your resume should be a living, breathing document that you continually update with new accomplishments and skills, changes in responsibilities, and changes in career goals. Get it up to date now, and remind yourself to refresh it quarterly and after each performance review.
(2) Employers should be more flexible in accommodating employees' scheduling needs.
A happy workforce leads to better retention, higher productivity, and greater profits. Companies that recognize and accommodate their employees' personal and family commitments have a better chance at keeping them happy. Having an income is important, but work/life balance is more important to today's families.
(3) Job seekers should use social media as a job search tool, yet be more cautious about what they put online.
Social networking sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook have become active online meeting places, as well as forums where you can express your views on issues related to your profession and other interests. Get your name and background out there, and look for groups where you can contribute your views and expertise, and offer help to those who need it. For better or for worse, your online presence will serve as an employment reference when someone Googles your name.
(4) Employers should look to older workers and near-retirees to assume mentoring roles to help train their younger peers.
The long, slow climb out of the recession has put some retirement dreams on hold, and even forced some retirees to return to the workforce. Employers would be wise to tap that expertise to help train the leaders and key players of tomorrow. With their extensive experience, they know how to get the job done, and if they can communicate their expertise effectively, they'll give their employers value that can last decades. (At the same time, younger workers can do some reverse-mentoring, sharing their expertise in the latest technologies and social media.)
(5) Job seekers should actively manage their careers.
Many people make the mistake of letting their careers manage them. They just drift from one job to the next, focusing on what they're doing today, with little thought about where they're going tomorrow. If you hope to reach a particular position or work for a particular company, find out now what you need to do to get there and whether your current job is preparing you. For instance, if you want to become a project manager, ask your boss how you can gain experience or training in project management. Employers may provide that hands-on training, but you need to grab it while you can. If your current job doesn't offer opportunities for you to develop professionally, find other ways to get the training you need.
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