In my line of work, I deal with people in transition all of the time. When I started during the global financial crisis in 2008, I had a lot of clients looking for coaching and resumes. I was busy helping job seekers who were seriously and disastrously down on their luck. From 2008-2011, life was hard for many people and I was there to help.
As the years went by, job searching became easier and I focused less and less on pure resume writing and coaching and more on career management and long term planning. I began noticing a trend that those who came to me for help were positioning themselves to earn more on the long term, which brought my attention to my salary negotiation efforts. Despite a really bad economy, most of my clients were earning at least 30% more than they were when they took those ,what I call, interim jobs (jobs one takes to float the family until they can find something better). Today, these people are earning above the national average and nobody can’t tell me that a little long term career planning can’t make a big material difference…. but that’s besides the point.
Where are we as a nation of professionals today? The national unemployment rate has reached an all time low from 2009. Statistics also shows us that people are less likely to quit their jobs today and they are earning 23% less than what they did in 2008. This means we’re learning to live with a lot less and we’re more prone to deal with work frustrations and problems rather than looking for greener pastures elsewhere. People have learned to keep their heads down fearing economic insecurity.
What does this mean for me? I’ve seen the trends reflect in my business and the demands for my expertise have changed. Since 2011, my practice had shifted from primarily writing resumes and life coaching (helping professionals deal with their personal and financial issues related to the financial crisis) to management and leadership coaching.
Sure, I’ve had a lot of people say they have wanted my help for resumes and job searching because they are really sick of their jobs or lack of income, but none, save for a few truly desperate individuals, have actually followed through with working with me. For me, this behavior simply reflects the economic trends occurring right before my eyes.
For the last three years, I’ve been working on helping professionals cope with what they have (and don’t have), getting managers to develop their existing talent because getting (and retaining) good help is hard to find, and assisting those few bold and brave who have not received any development and support from their companies to transition to higher paying, more challenging jobs elsewhere (which takes a lot of risk and resource management).
Even my clientele has changed. I used to work primarily with individuals and now I work primarily with organizations who recognize that their employees are struggling to keep up with organizational changes and problems in developing their management and business acumen. Professionals are investing less in themselves and companies are picking up the slack and footing the bill to ensure the bottom-line doesn’t fall through the ground.
The economy has improved in the last six years, but we’re seeing that substantial economic results are moving at a glacial pace. Having been badly burned by the economic crisis, professionals are willing to work for less to maintain job and financial security. Unfortunately, this insecurity has left mental and attitudinal blinders that keep professionals from making beneficial investments and necessary changes in career planning and personal development that can lead to increase material and emotional growth.
For now, the job market looks like a bunch of ostriches with their heads in the sand, waiting for things to change – however, things can’t change if we’re not the ones facilitating them.