Rebooting Your Career

The most frequently asked questions by unemployed readers of megadisrupter come from those who were laid off after holding a single job for many years. They held the job for so many years that looking for a new one feels awkward, foreign and terrible. They liked their old job and never even looked for a different one when they had it.

And while it is tough to get started looking for a new job, the hardest part comes during the search itself. People aren’t finding anything similar to what they were doing, and the few who do are finding the compensation to be drastically lower than what they were making. These folks are feeling too old to be taken seriously, too outdated and irrelevant to the professional world. Some have sent out over 1,000 resumes and gotten fewer than five responses.

Of course, on a long enough timeline the survival rate for all jobs drops to zero. At this point in our history, it is normal for people who have had the same job for 20 or more years to be laid off. If you haven’t evolved what you do and who you are, you cannot view yourself as a victim if you get the boot in favor of a cheaper person who does the same thing or a solution that replaces what you do entirely.

If you are in this situation, the good news is that you are still valuable. If you’ve been striking out in your job search, it’s not because you have nothing left to offer but because you are searching incorrectly. Here are a few problems to keep in mind about your situation and how to reboot your career to overcome them:

  1. Your exact job scope doesn’t exist anymore or now pays much less: 15 or 20 years ago, you were that relatively young whippersnapper who could do the things your position involved. But now your job description pays much less or may not even exist in the market at all. This causes frustration because you can’t find listings that match what you were doing. The listings that come closest are a stretch and you are getting blown out of the water by candidates who are a better fit or are much cheaper. Reboot by rigorously developing a detailed list of your skills and developing a personal narrative. Then re-map your narrative to a hot job position that requires those skills and pays you what you are worth. Your narrative will be a great fit and make you the dominant candidate.
  2. You need more critical thinking muscle: When you do the same thing for years, it becomes too easy. You don’t have to think very much to be good at it. This is bad because when you don’t have to think, you don’t think. Your critical thinking muscle has atrophied and you will not answer interview questions well because you can’t think on your feet. Hiring managers will correctly determine you can’t overcome obstacles. Reboot by reading lots of idea-based materials as well as participating in thought-provoking activities in your community, such as volunteer programs and projects or helping with your favorite trade association’s special events.
  3. Your hard skills may be out of date: All great jobs require certain hard skills for you to be successful. The most critical ones are more evolved than they were a decade ago. Reboot by learning how to map your value chain, make meaning of information and continuously improve your value. Nothing is more impressive to hiring managers than a true display of these skills coupled with your unique soft skills.

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