Posted by Ashram News Reporter on May 13, 2004


"For the past hundred years or so, urban society has taken for granted that most people would get an education, then use their learning to land a job with a stable organization or company".....

....RIGHT....NOT REALLY....IT IS NOT THAT EASY.....says Ron McGowan is a consultant in Vancouver who has recently completed the 2004 edition of his book How to Find Work in the 21st Century.

To read more about this topic.... YOU YOUNG GRADUATES AND THEIR PARENTS....please visit the site Canadian Globe and Mail... or click on the next line to read the advice from Ron McGowan on this PVAF knowledge web site.....

Forget a job:
grads must sell selves to new world of work

Canadian Globe and Mail: Wednesday, May 5, 2004 - Page C1

For the past hundred years or so, urban society has taken for granted that most people would get an education, then use their learning to land a job with a stable organization or company.

We're a society that remains fixated on that 20th-century social artifact -- the job -- when, in fact, it is being replaced by other forms of employment in the new world of work.

According to a September, 2003, report from York University, almost 40 per cent of Canadians are earning a living as temps, part-timers, contract workers or self-employed consultants, and their numbers are growing. In trend-setting California, just 33 per cent of the work force has traditional jobs, according to a study by the University of San Francisco.

"There's no big company anywhere in the developed world that's going to guarantee anybody lifetime employment any more," U.S. management expert Tom Peters said in a recent interview.

That's also true of small companies, where most employment opportunities are to be found these days.

This is the century of off-shoring, outplacement and self-employment, and it's time to wake up to that reality.The jobs that have gone to places such as India and China are never coming back.

To find work, today's graduates must be much more entrepreneurial and sales-oriented than grads in the past.

But they're getting little help in developing these skills. Many of the administrators and career counsellors at colleges and universities have no experience in the current volatile, challenging workplace.

It's ironic that the people charged with preparing grads for a life without long-term employment guarantees are themselves safely ensconced in stable jobs.

Because they don't know any better, most grads approach finding work in much the same way as their parents and grandparents did. The traditional résumé is seen as a sacred cow when in fact it is more like a dinosaur.

Instead of a résumé, grads need to be shown how to create marketing letters, brochures, websites and PDF files that focus on the needs of the firms they're targeting.

They must also understand that the key question in the mind of potential employers is: "How will hiring this person make my life easier?"

Grads know how to look for a job in the newspaper or on the Internet.

What they don't know is how to sniff out the hidden work opportunities that are never advertised and that represent most of the action.

It is no longer just master of business administration graduates who must think like entrepreneurs and successfully sell themselves.

People who major in English, art history and psychology have to do it, too, even if it makes them uncomfortable.

Selling oneself is not about acquiring the gift of gab. Potential employers don't need a sales pitch.

They want someone who can demonstrate a knowledge of their organization and industry and the challenges being faced.

For that, good communication skills are vital. Professional sales people are put through months of intensive training before going in front of a customer. Grads need to go through the same process.

The onus is also on grads to learn how to research a company before applying for work, and to be confident they have the skill set that will be helpful to that company.

Parents who have been downsized find out in a hurry just how much more difficult it is to find work in today's workplace and how ill-prepared they are to do so.

Students at some universities are already preparing for the new workplace through Advancing Canadian Entrepreneurship Inc. (ACE), a non-profit organization that provides training on entrepreneurship, along with mentoring from local entrepreneurs and ACE alumni.

Unfortunately, it has chapters in only about 20 per cent of Canada's colleges and universities.

Also helpful is Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE), an international non-profit organization with connections to ACE. It is represented in more than 1,500 universities in 37 countries.

Every student, regardless of faculty, should get involved with these organizations to help develop their entrepreneurial skills and outlook.

Students also need to shift their thinking about when to start looking for work.

It is an outdated approach to wait until they're close to graduating or after they've left school. They should work seriously at it for all of their final year.

Or better still, develop a strategy throughout their college years and sharpen it as they look for summer jobs.

Effective networking is another necessary skill.

But beware of many so-called networking events where you have a better chance of being hustled by someone selling life insurance or mutual funds than of connecting with a decision-maker in your chosen field.

Being active in groups such as ACE and SIFE will go a long way toward developing meaningful networking skills. Toastmasters International is another group students should belong to. If there isn't a chapter on campus, they should set one up.

Some chambers of commerce and professional associations offer student memberships, and those near graduation should get actively involved. Where such memberships are not available, students should approach the executive members to set them up.

Administrators and faculty at colleges and universities also need to do more to connect with potential employers, especially with small businesses.

They need to work more closely with local chambers of commerce, professional associations and groups such as the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. Being passive members of such associations doesn't cut it; they must be actively involved in running them to avoid being isolated from the real world.

Co-operative programs have proved successful because they connect students to the world of work throughout their educational experience. Faculty members also need that connection. Too many of them have been in their jobs for 10, 20 or more years and are out of touch with the environment their students are heading into.

To avoid this, administrators should stop hiring faculty on a full-time basis. Instead, they should hire consultants, contractors or small-business owners as part-time faculty. Thanks to years of downsizing, these people are available and students would be better served by having access to them.

Most colleges and universities already have some type of annual career or job fair, but these need to be given a much higher profile. That means putting more money and resources into them and encouraging small businesses to participate.

Our ancestors were self-employed people who earned their livings as contractors, trades people, craftspeople and small business owners. When the concept of a job was introduced to them, they thought it was a crazy idea.

It's the ultimate irony that the job, which our ancestors saw as abhorrent, is something we've become addicted to, and are having great difficulty withdrawing from, now that it is in decline.

Ron McGowan is a consultant in Vancouver and has recently completed the 2004 edition of his book How to Find Work in the 21st Century.


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