It’s no secret that the labor market is still struggling to recover. It doesn’t matter if you’re fresh out of college or an industry veteran, finding a job in this economic climate is difficult.
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A few facts to consider:
- Last year, 1 out 2 college graduates under age 25 was either underemployed or jobless
- Unemployment among middle-aged workers (ages 45-65) is near a record high at 6%
- Individuals between the ages of 45 and 65 who lose their job take an average of one year to find another job (they make up 39% of the long-term unemployed)
I recently facilitated a series of roundtables with career development professionals from across the country at the National Career Development Association’s (NCDA) annual conference in Atlanta. The purpose of the sessions was to discuss the issues unemployed Americans are facing and brainstorm ways of dealing with job seeking in the our new economic reality.
Unemployment cuts across all demographics, and there is no one-size-fits-all fix. Most of the participants agreed that we need to rekindle the spirit of American entrepreneurialism to get the country back on track. To achieve career success in the “New Economy,” individuals have to take an entrepreneurial mindset in how they approach getting back into the workforce. Many participants agreed that this shift will have to start with teaching young people the fundamentals of entrepreneurism and encouraging adults to take more personal responsibility. Here are three key points that came from the sessions:
Teach Capitalism. The U.S. is a free market capitalist society. This country was founded on economic freedom and individual entrepreneurialism. However, we don’t teach the fundamentals of capitalism and entrepreneurialism (economics and finance) in most primary and secondary schools. What’s worse, many college majors also don’t require these classes. How can we build a strong and effective capitalist society without teaching our youth the fundamentals our society is based on?
The vast majority of businesses in this country are classified as small businesses and they employ more than half of all American workers. We must proactively instill the spirit of American entrepreneurialism throughout all levels of education if we are to have any hope of preserving our culture of free market capitalism.
Encourage Personal Responsibility. The old “rewrite your resume and polish those interview skills” approach to job hunting won’t cut it in this market. The Great Recession fundamentally changed our employment landscape; it’s no longer about chasing opportunities, it’s about creating them.
Individuals need to take more personal responsibility for their situations. Job seekers can’t wait for the government to bail them out, they need to learn how to bail themselves out! The traditional model of job seeking can be a bit mechanical, and it’s easy to get stuck in a rut of surfing job boards and blindly sending out resumes. College career centers and workforce development agencies across the country need to move away from traditional job-seeking methods and adapt to the new labor market realities to focus more on developing personal responsibility and an entrepreneurial mindset.
Learn to Translate Skills. Translating skills will be key to opening new opportunities in this economy. Many industries took substantial hits and won’t be recovering anytime soon, which means that job seekers will have to look outside of their chosen industries to find opportunities. However, there are some industries projected to experience growth and employment opportunities like home health care services, nursing, and administrative services . The challenge is figuring out how to get job seekers to translate their skills for these growth industries. One way to accomplish this is through internships, apprenticeships, and part-time transition roles.
Michael “Dr. Woody” Woodward, PhD is a CEC certified executive coach trained in organizational psychology. Dr. Woody is author of The YOU Plan: A 5-step Guide to Taking Charge of Your Career in the New Economy and is the founder of Human Capital Integrated (HCI), a firm focused on management and leadership development. Dr. Woody also sits on the advisory board of the Florida International University Center for Leadership.Follow Dr. Woody on Twitter and Facebook