"The illiterate of the future will not be the person who cannot read. It will be the person who does not know how to learn"  Alvin Toffler

"Things are different this time". These famous words have been used in many contexts, including the ever changing employment market. In the case of career planning, this saying seems to be true.

Previous generations were familiar with a vastly different employment picture. One that included jobs for life, jobs that answered to set management, a well defined career plan that allowed one to climb up the corporate ladder, jobs that did not require keen attitudes and interests, careers that were well defined, within companies that were stable and had long term prospects. Today's picture couldn't be more different. There are no more "jobs for life", management is flexible and ever changing, employees are expected to change along with the company and its operating environment, and companies are not stable entities with mergers, acquisitions, and attrition resulting from increased global competition. In addition, the western world has seen the cost to employment (to businesses) rise with increasing rules and regulations - which will lead to a continued growth for people that work for themselves or have home based businesses.

In this environment employees need to be better prepared for change, including drastic, life changing events that can occur at will. Having said that, this could also be used as a tool by employees as the labour market is expected to remain tight, especially in the skilled and service fields. The knowledge economy is no longer a panacea, and those who can better themselves through hard work and continuous education should reap the rewards. What we are need is a change in attitudes, towards the job market. People create their own careers, this is not only from their hard work and learning, but also from their personal ingenuity and attitudes. From computer programming, to the military, investments/banking to retail or entrepreneurship. Attitudes must transform from personal focus to a team focus, for a corporation/employer is akin to a team whose goal is to perform even as it replaces players and managers/coaches as the needs arise. This leads to the most daunting task for employees - the lack of job security. As you'd expect on a professional sports team, all parts are replaceable. This is no different in the job arena.

So in an environment that embraces continuous change and the need to stay competitive, there is more churn. Now this can mean both good and bad things for employees, depending on the economic cycle, their qualifications and the needs of an industry. As more people enter the job search market and do so with more frequency, it is essential for job seekers to circumvent the traditional job search avenues in order to gain an edge. The person who can network their way to a decision maker has the best chances of landing even the most highly sought after job position. Once in the job, you must start the cycle once again of adapting to your new environment and continually improving yourself by adding new skills and qualifications.

Job Search Process

In order to create an efficient plan for job search or career management, we can't just log into Monster.com and start looking for jobs and instead must follow a logical process. The first step in either seeking a job or changing careers is research. One must figure out where the jobs are, who is hiring, and what are the prospects for the future. This needs to be followed up by "Self Assessment". You need to figure out what you are good at and what is stopping you from enhancing your current position. Next in line would be a plan to market yourself and generate leads. The most commonly perceived way of marketing yourself is the resume, but other marketing efforts including networking are also key. The final step in the process is the interview, the face to face interaction that is the final factor in the decision maker's selection.