The Case for Engaging Job Seekers for the Long Haul
Zombie Ideas and Workforce Policies

The New Core Services: Career Management for the 21st Century

Uncertainty-ahead

In yesterday's post, I introduced the idea that we should expand Core Services beyond our usual job search topics so that we could enage both employed and unemployed job seekers in a longer series of career management topics designed to increase their career resilience

Today, I want to share some of my thoughts on the types of topics we should be addressing in these expanded Core Services. 

Core Services Topics That Build Career Resilience

In my work with job seekers, both employed and unemployed, I've observed that there are a number of areas where people need to be getting more education and support. These are a reflection of how the job market has changed and how expectations for both workers and employers are evolving. 

  • Figuring out if they are vulnerable to a lay-off.  Too many people seem to be caught totally off-guard when a lay-off comes.  Somehow they've thought it wouldn't happen to them, even though we can see fairly clearly the industries and occupations where the handwriting is on the wall. I think we need to do a better job of helping people look at how technology and other factors may impact their work so they can begin preparing sooner, rather than later for the possibility of losing their jobs. 

  • Identifying the best new skills and credentials workers need to make themselves more valuable in their occupation and industry. In my work with job seekers, I've found that there is a great tendency to leave professional development up to the company. Workers will only access the training opportunities that their organization provides to them. This can be a huge mistake, however. Companies are focused on what's best for their business, not necessarily on what's best for an individual employee. Job seekers need support and information in thinking about and accessing skill development opportunities that will best serve THEIR needs, not just the needs of the company. And they need this help while they are still employed, not after they lose their jobs. 

  • How to create strong, resilient networks and quality relationships with people. Now more than ever, professional success is tied to the quality of your relationships. Yet most people don't recognize the importance of their networks until they need them. Worse yet, this is often when they discover that they haven't done a good job of building and tending to their connections. The people who are most likely to find work quickly once they lose their jobs are those who have created quality networks. These are also the people less likely to lose a job in the first place, because through their networks, they're always finding and accessing new opportunities.

  • Developing a "personal brand" and communicating that brand on and off-line. I know that in many of our job search workshops, we discuss the concept of having a "personal brand" and how you communicate that brand through your resume, interviews, etc. But the time to start creating your personal brand is while you have a job, not once you've lost it. People who are currently employed need help in understanding the concept and elements of personal branding and support in learning how to communicate that brand through social media and in real-life interactions. The more they are able to do this, the less likely they are to lose their jobs.

  • Thinking like an entrepreneur and developing multiple income streams. Entrepreneurs are always focused on finding new opportunities--how can they use their skills and resources to accomplish particular goals? This is the kind of thinking that employers prize and it's a mindset that people can learn. We should be teaching and reinforcing these skills. We should also be talking to people about creating multiple income streamsso that they are less vulnerable if/when a layoff comes. We should show them how they can start side businesses to supplement their income and how to construct a career from project work. This brings more stability to people's finances and also helps people develop new skills and opportunities for themselves.

If we really wanted to get serious about providing these kinds of services, I would see us making available a whole range of supports, including:

  • In-person workshops
  • Online live webinars
  • Recorded video presentations that people could review on their own time
  • Podcasts that people could download to their computers or to their mp3 players
  • Worksheets and PDF resources 

Obviously in-person workshops and regular webinars are the most staff-intensive strategy and I know that many American Job Centers/One Stops already feel stretched to the max. At a minimum, though, we should explore ways that we could provide these services online through pre-recorded sessions and worksheets, articles, etc. These can be created once and then used repeatedly. 

What are your thoughts? Can you see how these could benefit your customers and help all job seekers become more resilient and employable? 

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