As an article came up on Twitter today from @Reuters, the title struck out at me: “Jobless Americans wary of losing their edge.” I couldn’t resist reading it, especially since I can relate. The article, written by Kristina Cooke, is very well written and extremely familiar. After losing my job in February 2010, I wasn’t sure what my next steps would be. It was something that I had really never planned for and didn’t expect. But somehow once it happened I started to think about what to do next, where was I going, how was I going to keep myself sharp and improve myself; I also had to think about how recruiters would be seeing me going forward.
In my own situation, I was fortunate to have the financial means to take a chance at starting my own business and furthering my education (thankfully my amazing wife has stood behind me through it all!). Also, to continue to improve my knowledge and skills, I continued to read the periodicals that I receive through my membership in the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI) and American Society of Training & Development (ASTD). I also continued to read books, and write blogs, and join in on conversations around the web. I believe that all of these things have helped me in keeping myself up-to-date and relevant. Needless to say, I was still unsure of how much of an impact these events would have on my marketability.
I think this article really speaks to the fear that most people would never think of while they have a job, but I’m sure that going forward those of us who have experienced this event will never forget. The idea that what you know and your experience could become irrelevant because of the amount of time you have been out of a job, or the fact that you might lose your ability to do your job effectively because of not using your skills regularly can be deeply frightening. Even worse, finding a way to continue to stay sharp is not always as easy as it may seem either. As a father to an almost-two-year-old, my wife and I have found that financially it doesn’t make sense for me to “just take a job.” Neither would it be very likely that I could take a volunteer position due to the cost of child care. With all of these factors in play, it can really become daunting to meet the expectations of recruiters and hiring managers, and to continue to catch their eyes.
It will be interesting to see what the long-term effects will be on society and the culture of both our country and corporate America. Is this the event that changes the job market as we know it? Is this the thing that will open senior positions and change the way we do business? What will be the trickle down effect? Perhaps there will be some new studies on this and more, and I for one will be reading them to make sure to keep my skills sharp, and my knowledge relevant.