Awakening Required for American Workers – Both Mid-Career and New in the Workforce

"Today's college grads need to be aware that the rising trend in Silicon Valley is to evaluate employees every quarter, not annually. wait until the end of the year to figure out whether a team leader is doing a good job, "Thomas L. Friedman reported in an Op-Ed piece for The New York Times July 12, 2011.

Friedman goes on to point out that the fastest growing / very high valuation companies, such as Facebook at $ 100 billion, Twitter at $ 8 billion, Groupon at $ 30 billion, and LinkedIn at $ 8 billion, have much, much smaller workforces than traditional corporations of equal value. They are hiring new employees, but they are hiring primarily specialized technicians and engineers, and in small numbers compared to the brick and mortar companies of the past.

During the bloodbath (layoffs) of the past recession American worker productivity rose by 6% at the end of 2009 – a phenomenal increase. This was thought about by the remaining workers having to shoulder the additional workload of the laid off workers and because companies turned to new automation and outsourced functions that were less costly performed by other companies. The remaining workers were overworked but still happy to remain on payrolls, but now are antsy for new opportunities as there is a glimmer of hope the economy is improving.

Previously, students graduated from colleges having learned some fundamental skills and basically started their job searches with the expectation that an employer would hire them and train them – providing them with the opportunity to master the specific skills that they needed to perform the work required. Many thought companies "owed" them jobs for all of their hard work getting degrees. This is certainly not the case, as companies have a huge labor pool to choose from (there are approximately 5 people looking for each open job today).

For mid-career professionals downsized during the past recession, the skills that they have acquired over the years may no longer match the requirements of the current job market. In this situation re-training, specialized schooling, a change of careers, or even to start his or her own business may be an option. Keep in mind that small businesses have created two-thirds of all new jobs over the past two decades.

The old adage, "you've got to earn your job each day," is definitely a prescription for future employment stability. But it is much deeper than that. You've got to use your intelligence and do research to find what fields are growing, what companies are innovative and moving forward in the global economy, and which ones are hiring people with your skill set. If your skills do not exactly align with the job, it may be "close but no cigar!" You may have to acquire the skills through more schooling or specialized training, or accept a lower payment position that will allow you to learn the necessary skills. It is more important than ever to build a network of friends, colleges, former classmates, and trade association members to get assistance to ferret out the job opportunities that match your experience. You are going to have to determine how you can add value to a position, that you have critical thinking skills, and sell the recruiter that you are the perfect fit for the job.