The Web is crowded with articles extolling the best practices for finding a new or better job. I’ve contributed a few of those missives myself. Recently, however, I heard a fellow describe best practices as “stuff that used to work.” In other words, by the time something has become a best practice, it’s likely also to have become obsolete. What’s the alternative? Next Practices.
Next Practices are emerging ideas that have a positive impact on your job search. They are not widely known or even accepted, but that’s part of their value. They enable you to stand out from the herd. And, in today’s crowded job market, that’s an important advantage, in and of itself.
No less important, Next Practices address the world as it is, not as it has been. They are effective because they are timely and on point. They deal with the situations you face, not those that were faced by job seekers a decade ago, or five years ago, or before the Great Recession and Lousy Recovery changed everything. To put it another way, Next Practices correct best practices.
Unlike best practices, however, Next Practices are not fixed. They aren’t etched in stone as if they were social commandments. They are fluid and frequently in flux. They are correct for the circumstances we face today, but they may have to morph to respond to the changes in those circumstances that will inevitably occur tomorrow and the day after.
What are some of these Next Practices? The two below will give you a sense of how they work.
Don’t believe what you’re told about a college degree.
What’s been the best practice for the last twenty years? Go get a college degree and your career success is locked in. It was good advice in the past; it’s the kiss of death today. If you have any doubt about that, ask the 53.6 percent of college graduates under the age of 25 who are now unemployed or underemployed.
What’s the Next Practice? Go get a college degree and a degree in career self-management. Learn how to be an expert in a field of study that interests you and an expert in putting that expertise to work.
There is a body of knowledge and set of skills involved in preparing for and then continuously succeeding in the job market. Sadly, you won’t find either offered on most U.S. college campuses these days; the faculty doesn’t consider them important enough to warrant inclusion in the curriculum. Contrast that view with the one in China, where such a course is a requirement for graduation.
What should you do if you’ve been out of college for awhile and are in transition? Find a career counselor or coach with whom you’re comfortable and tap their wisdom. Invest the same level of effort you devoted to acquiring your college diploma (minus all the social stuff), but this time you’ll be getting an education that will actually help you find a job and lead a successful career.
Don’t rely on accomplishments to set yourself apart from other job seekers.
What’s been the best practice for the last twenty years? Feature your work accomplishments on your resume to make it stand out. It was good advice in the past; today, however, employers expect more. They no longer believe that excellence in the past is a predictor of excellence in the future.
What’s the Next Practice? Add a new section called ‘What I Learned’ to each job description in the Experience section of your resume. Use it to list the top 3-5 new skills or areas of knowledge you acquired through doing your work. From an employer’s perspective, it’s that personal growth that is the best insurance you will continue to deliver superior performance on-the-job.
Why are these two changes so important? Because the half-life of your expertise is shrinking by the year. Don’t believe it? Think about this: for the first time ever, in 2008, we humans created 4 terabytes (4 times 10 to the 19th power) of new information in just one year. That’s more new knowledge than was created in the first 5,000 years of human history. So, the only way to land a job and hang onto it these days is if you see yourself as a work-in-progress, and highlight that person to employers on our resume.
Putting a check mark in the Education box and touting the success you had in your last job are the quintessential “stuff that used to work.” If you want employers to value your expertise in today’s workplace and believe you will contribute that value to their success, you have to do what works today. You have to use Next Practices.
Thanks for reading,
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Peter Weddle is the author of over two dozen employment-related books, including A Multitude of Hope: A Novel About Rediscovering the American Dream, The Success Matrix: Wisdom from the Web on How to Get Hired & Not Be Fired, WEDDLE’s 2011/12 Guide to Employment Sites on the Internet, The Career Activist Republic, and Work Strong, Your Personal Career Fitness System. Get them at Amazon.com and www.Weddles.com today.
© Copyright 2012 WEDDLE’s LLC. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission