The Great Recession has fundamentally changed the employment landscape in this country.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 9.5% rate of national unemployment for June is unchanged from this time a year ago.
For adult women, unemployment is actually up from 7.6% in June 2009 to 7.8% in June of this year. Additionally, there are nearly 7 million American workers who have been out of work for longer than six months. This is substantially higher than at any point during the recession.
When it comes to recent graduates, the National Association of Colleges and Employers reported only 39% of graduating college seniors had job offers this year, a rate virtually unchanged from 2009.
According to a survey conducted by CollegeGrad.com, this rate drove 80% of new graduates to move back home in 2009, an unappealing prospect for cash-strapped parents. The fact is many economists fear we are entering a “jobless recovery,” which means we are going to have to start thinking differently.
The reality is the old rules no longer apply. We are entering into an age of career entrepreneurialism, an age where careers are no longer pursued, they are created. Whether you are unemployed, underemployed, or looking to make a change, career success in the “New Economy” is going to require personal accountability and proactive planning.
The number of defined job slots available continues to dwindle, which means you’re going to have to start getting more creative and ultimately more competitive. Regardless of your circumstances, it’s going to be up to you to find a way to make it happen. In one way, shape, or form, every entrepreneur has their own personal plan and so should you.
Creating a YOU Plan
Creating a personalized business plan for your career, called a “You Plan,” requires asking yourself serious introspective questions and making tough choices.
Developing your own plan starts with taking stock of who you are and the assets you have at your disposal. Once you have a handle on yourself, it’s time to think about the brand package you need to create and then develop a roadmap for taking it to market.
You are a VIP: Start by Looking Inward
To understand who you are and your assets think about three things: values, intrinsics, and passions, or VIPs. Before you can make a series push to get out there and make your next career move, you need to have a firm handle on your VIPs.
Your VIPs are important because they represent the essence of who you are and what you are capable of. Before you can create a brand package, you must have a firm grasp on what you bring to the table. Consider that:
• Your values are what drive your decision making, they are your compass
• Your intrinsics are what you bring to the table, they are your value proposition
• Your passions are what generate your energy and enthusiasm, they are what people see
People tend to think they have a good handle on their VIPs, but try and seriously answer three questions:
• What are my Values? • What are my Intrinsics? • What are my Passions?
Package Your Essence or Brand
If you can answer the three VIP questions, you’ve answered the larger question of what you are about. The next step is to create a brand package.
Personal branding is about taking the essence of who you are and packaging it in a way that makes sense to potential employers and consumers. Getting your message across will require simple yet high impact sound bites. When developing your brand message make sure you:
• Establish your credibility
• Demonstrate your value
• Show that you stand out
Draw a Roadmap
At the end of the day this is all academic if you don’t have a roadmap. As a job seeker back on the market, you are now in sales for you. Creating a roadmap is about setting goals, establishing metrics, and taking deliberate action. You should have a clear set of activities with daily, weekly, and monthly goals. Even simple things like the number of networking events you’ll attend or the old contacts you’ll reach out to can be a great start.
Creating a You Plan isn’t easy and it shouldn’t be. However, it is a critical first step in creating a successful career. Keep in mind, would an NFL coach field a team on Sunday without a game plan? Would an airline pilot take off with a plane full of passengers and no flight plan? Would a general take to the battlefield without a strategy? I think not!
Michael “Dr. Woody” Woodward, PhD is a CEC certified professional coach who holds a PhD in organizational psychology. Dr. Woody is founder of the consulting firm HCI and author of the new book The YOU Plan: A 5-step Guide to Taking Charge of Your Career in the New Economy.