Sharpening the Saw

I spent several days last week in a training class.  Professional development is important if you want to improve in your career.  In today’s economy, it is even more critical.  Unemployment continues to increase and job seekers continue to become more frustrated with the job market.

There is a lot of talk about the recession being over.  We’re now in recovery!  Unfortunately, it’s being called a jobless recovery.  Companies have downsized to a point where they are profitable at lower volumes.  They are not in decline any longer.  They are also not growing or adding staff – they are only replacing key losses.  This could make the job market very difficult for an extended period.  It won’t last forever.  Job creation will return, but if you need a job now, that’s not much of a consolation. 

In the training class I attended, there were people stable in their careers looking to add a new skill, there were individuals looking for work who wanted to give themselves an edge in the job markets and others were looking to move in a new career direction and needed to add new skills to make the career change. 

These are great goals.  Additionally, by taking the initiative to find and attend a workshop, these individuals demonstrated a commitment to their professionals above what most are doing.  They are not sitting still. They are striving to move forward and grow. 

This is an important lesson in an economic downtown.  The number of discouraged job seekers has been climbing.  There are a ton of people who are out of work and have given up searching for a job.  An extended job search is frustrating and depressing.  There’s no way around that.  Being rejected over and over can make a person feel that their job search is pointless.  Unfortunately, if you adopt this view, you will be right.  Giving up will ensure an unsuccessful job search.

So what are you going to do?  Asking this question is a critical first step.  Running out and signing up for a training class is an answer, but it is far from the only one.  What is critical is what you are doing during your job search.  This could be enrolling in school, attending a workshop, volunteering at a local charity or any other activity that keeps you on a path of learning, growth and development. 

In additional to gaining some new skills, you will also help your marketability.  For people who have been out of work for an extended period, they are likely to face the question, “what have you been doing while out of work?”  Many will only answer “I’ve been looking for a job,” while a few will describe substantive activities related to their career that could make them more marketable.  If you were hiring, who would you pick?