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How to Succeed in the 21st Century Job Market - Part 2

  • Kevin & Kay Marie Brennfleck National Certified Career Counselors
  • Published May 15, 2003
How to Succeed in the 21st Century Job Market - Part 2

The world of work is changing, and so are the rules for achieving success in the job market. Learning these new rules will enable you to develop “employment security” in these rapidly changing times.  (In Part 1, we focused on the first two “rules” for succeeding in the job market of today and tomorrow: Rule #1: Take responsibility for your own career development, and Rule #2: Become a need-finder.)

Rule #3: Recognize your need to be an ongoing learner. No longer does one “finish” their education and then “get on” with work. Career fields and technology are constantly changing, and to be successful each of us needs to become a lifelong learner. What does this mean? First, it means staying up-to-date in your field. Join and/or become active in at least one professional association. Check the Encyclopedia of Associations (a reference book found in most libraries) to find which association(s) pertain to your current or desired career field.

Rule #4: Be prepared to “prove” your abilities and accomplishments.  You should be ready at all times to demonstrate to your current or prospective employer what you have accomplished. We recommend that you develop a “success portfolio” to assist you in performance evaluations and job interviews. A success portfolio consists of documenting information in each of the following areas:

  • Professional experience (job titles, responsibilities, key accomplishments)
  • Related experience (volunteer activities, etc. that relate to your career area or target)
  • Professional recognition (formal and informal feedback you have received about your performance and contributions, including writing down any positive comments you receive from your boss, co-workers, clients, etc.)
  • Professional development (training sessions, seminars, etc. you have attended)
  • Education
  • References (name, job title, address, phone number, e-mail address, etc. for each of your professional references)

Rule #5: Demonstrate the characteristics of a desirable employee. A 1996 survey of hiring managers (conducted by the Thomas Mangum Company) found 12 areas of skill and experience that managers looked for in people they interviewed: cross-functional skills; computer skills; being a team player; management/leadership skills; being a risk-taker; communication skills; flexibility; willingness to learn; entrepreneurial skills; specialization; transferable skills; and, a positive attitude.

Developing a more positive attitude at work is one area in which each of us can improve immediately! Do you find yourself complaining, dwelling on negative thoughts about your workplace, leading or joining in on “gripe sessions”? It’s an easy trap to fall into, but one that is detrimental to everyone, including yourself. The Bible instructs us: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29).

One of our clients put this exhortation into action at her job. She saw how negativity was creating a downward spiral for herself and her co-workers, so she developed a plan for an employee appreciation program. She took the proposal to her boss, and got the go-ahead to implement the plan. Her program has dramatically changed the work environment at her office! What can you do to make your workplace more positive?

The Most Important “Rule”: Remember that God is in charge! 

You may be feeling overwhelmed by the changes you have seen in the world at large and in the job market. The degree of change we experience in 10 years is more than previous generations experienced in their entire lifetimes. Instead of giving into fear, however, we need to remember that the God we serve is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is in control and His principles for living life successfully have not changed! Regardless of what we have experienced or will experience in our lives, we need not be afraid because we have God’s assurance that all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

We do live in this world, and so need to keep up with important changes that affect our lives and work. Success in the job market, however, is not our most important goal. Our calling is to love God and others, seeking to live increasingly in a Christ-like way. We are to be salt and light in this world. To do that, we need to focus on Jesus, not on an unstable economy or dramatic changes in technology in the workplace. Only then will we be truly successful in life!

Kevin & Kay Marie Brennfleck, National Certified Career Counselors, are the directors of the Christian Career Center and Church Jobs Online. (Through these sites you can search hundreds of current job listings from churches, ministries and Christian employers, post your free or featured resume and obtain career counseling and testing to discover work that fits your God-given design.)