How to Retool Yourself for the New Job Marketplace


by Wim Dodson


A couple of years back, Forbes Magazine noted that 91 percent of Millennials plan to stay in there jobs for less than three years. “That means they would have 15 - 20 jobs over the course of their working lives!”

However, financial insecurity can undermine this ambition. A college education underpinned with huge loans seems tantamount to a prison sentence, the weight of debt forcing the brightest to take jobs that pay the bills, not change the world.  Instead of pounding the pavement and fending off the federal government, Millennials in tech startups behave like robots and cheerleaders along with everyone else.

Diverse professionals have it even tougher.  When one considers they have to pry (if not kick) open doors to opportunities, the tendency for diverse professionals to hold on to jobs for dear life is not a surprise.


Don’t Rely on Job Security

I applaud Millennials, and the Gen-Z generation (born after 1996) that already considers Millennials “old”, for their openness to new experience and change. Although I still advise young adults to try to find a big company to work for during their twenties (far better to have someone else pay for your mistakes than for you to - literally - have to pay for your own), corporate loyalty died decades ago.

Of course, this works both ways.  Most corporations see staff as expendable. Staying with a company past your personal expiry date is an invitation to become obsolete.  

Instead of dedicating themselves to their employer, diverse professionals should be continually sizing up whether their organization provides the experience and skills development they need to develop.

As jobs disappear in favor of automation and outsourcing, keeping your skills up to date is paramount. So is gathering more skills, and honing those.


Stay Relevant in a Changing Market

The most important core skills to develop and exhibit are not technology skills; they are people skills. Technology is an enabler but it is ultimately a dead end. I know this as a budding software developer who figured out in his twenties that 14-hour days were not all that fun. Neither was continually having to learn the latest flavor of whatever software corporations considered de riguer.

I gravitated toward project management, and then organizational change management; not so much because I wanted to be a manager as I saw technology companies really needed help with coordination and communications, skills that never expire.

To stay relevant in a changing job market, drive hard to develop your own soft skills. Take courses and participate as much as possible in activities involving negotiation, people management, marketing and sales, and business writing. Any opportunity that gets you in front of people, allowing you to practice making genuine contact and a lasting impression, will serve you far better than certifications in Java programming.

What most people who are afraid to change companies don’t understand is that hiring managers don’t care what you did before -- they only care about how you’ll improve their condition NOW and make them look good at the same time.