Paul B. Brown
We are convinced that people in the 30s, 40s and early 50s have their heads in the sand, when it comes to whether their jobs—or their very industries—are going to survive.
We aren’t being critical. Just stating a totally understandable reality.
No one wants to face the fact that they could be unemployed, especially if the cause of that unemployment is through no fault of their own. And so they look at the radical changes that have come to industries as diverse as publishing and pay phones and say “those are the exceptions.”
But odds are they are not. You’d be hard pressed to find an industry that is not going through massive change. (Been to a record store lately? Drop off any photos to be processed? Read an afternoon paper [or been able to find a local morning one if you live in a small city]? Bought a printed map? Placed a call from your hotel room—through the hotel’s phone system? Ordered a set of encyclopedias? Rented a movie from a stand-alone video store like Blockbuster? Probably not.)
So, what you should do?
Well, we have talk in the past about others options, such as putting in 1,000 hours now to prepare for next job and starting something on the side today that could lead you to your next career.
Here, let us spend a few minutes on what you shouldn’t over-invest in.
There has been a growing school of thought, which probably dates back to the wonderful Harvey MacKay books (Swim with the Sharks; Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty) that if your network is large enough, you’ll be able to rely on it to get out of any situation—including pending unemployment. Indeed, a full 25% of the recent best seller (and otherwise very good book) the Start Up of You by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha, a work designed to help you navigate your career, is devoted to explaining how networking is vital to your future.
I am here to tell you it ain’t necessarily so. (My co-authors Len and Charlie don’t share my feelings on this. So, direct all the negative comments to me, please.)
Why isn’t networking THE answer? Let me give you four reasons.
1. You might not be good at it. I was talking to a 50-something friend about how networking is supposedly the best route to take when you are in search of a job and he gave us a response we love. “If that is the case, I will retire now. I suck at networking. I hate to do it. And I won’t do it.”
2, The people you know may be gone. If you haven’t done any networking in a while, you may discover that you know a lot fewer people than you think. People have the bad grace of dying, retiring or moving onto fields where they can’t be of very much help.
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