Taking Advantage of an Improving Economy
We’re finally seeing daylight with the beginning of an economic turnaround. As jobs continue to multiply, some basic elements of finding rewarding work are still necessary. It’s important to stay focused and build a strategy for optimizing conditions during these improving economic times.

The upswing in the economy/job market doesn’t mean it’s time to forget about planning, strategizing, preparing, networking, positioning ourselves and generally staying on top of things. In fact, this is the time to double down on those activities because the recent recession has taught us, if nothing else, that we can’t take “good” times for granted. We must remain vigilant. While some may consider cutting themselves a little slack, others are out there, reinforcing their skills. Those are the people to watch because they’ll end up being more competitive than those who have taken a “timeout.”

In order to achieve my own goals, I must help others achieve theirs. That requires a considerable amount of planning, dedication, discipline, commitment, flexibility, organization, desire and patience. (I probably find the last one the hardest to model, and some people may think I have none at all. Nevertheless, patience is still an asset.) These are all behaviors I ask my clients to adopt when they have an important goal to achieve. Although some have described my methods as “boot camp,” those who follow suit have terrific results to celebrate. In turn, I get the double enjoyment and satisfaction of celebrating the achievement of my goals. Over the past year, I’ve helped dozens of people reach their goals. Most have learned to embrace the work required to set goals and complete the necessary steps for reaching those goals, although some take a little longer to get there. The celebration is the fun part, and it always follows a considerable amount of hard work.

Ironically, as the job market opens up and more positions become available, my role seems to get even tougher. After 16 years as a career coach, I have seen the ups and downs in the market several times. In a tight market, people expect to roll up their sleeves and attempt new strategies for getting employed (or re-employed). In a more robust market, the unemployed often think the road leading to the job of their dreams should take less effort. That’s when we run into several roadblocks, and my job gets harder. Some bristle at the disciplined approach I expect them to take if they have limited budgets and need income quickly. The assumption is that it shouldn’t be this hard or that they really don’t need help. The problem with assumptions like these is that they lead to more obstacles by extending unemployment or being stuck in a dead-end job.

Proactive approaches continue to be much more fun and rewarding. Many of my clients who started new jobs during the last two to three years have started in roles that already have led or will lead them to their “perfect” role. We have developed strategies for growing from a “Plan C” or “Plan B” to a “Plan A.” During those tough times, they were continuing to work on their strategies for moving forward and achieving their goals. They have been proactively preparing for and are now already in position to take advantage of the next opportunity. They have been working, skill building and connecting themselves with people who will be influential in supporting their career growth/change. On the flip side, there are many others who have been waiting for the market to open up and sitting on the sidelines. These folks are now competing against people with more current experience and stronger footholds in networks that can lead them to higher elevations in their careers.

Just as positioning is a key element in taking advantage of the improvements in the market, the tactics taken to weather a storm are still the foundation for moving forward. It all comes back to the willingness to commit, plan ahead, manage the process effectively and apply dedication, discipline, flexibility, organization, desire and patience. Yes, there is a cost to this (financial, emotional and time). The important thing to remember is that we really can change our directions and achieve our goals by making these investments. As you move into the next year, remember to acknowledge your successes, stay proactive and plan strategies for overcoming your challenges.