careers

Millennials were born with the internet. They’ve probably never used card catalogs, Walkmans or typewriters. And unlike older workers, they don’t believe in job security.

In a nice counterpoint to a recent Atlantic Monthly story that argued GenY will be permanently handicapped by the recession, Nancy Cook, writing for Newsweek, wonders whether younger people are actually very nicely suited to the New Normal of jobs…

Personal branding is essential, whether you are just starting out in your first job, or moving up a rung on the career ladder. It’s something you need to work on so when you ask yourself the question, “Who am I?” you’ll know the answer and be able to communicate it clearly and concisely.

Some people confuse their personal brand with their “elevator speech.” The term “elevator speech” trivializes an important process that will help you understand exactly what makes you stand out from the crowd.

Your brand influences how important internal and external audiences, including your boss, your customers and prospects perceive you and what they think you have to offer them. Another way of understanding branding is that it’s the words you would want people to use in describing you.

Branding is what sets you apart from your competition. Let’s look at the brands of some famous companies and people. FedEx, for example, is positioned as the company that you can rely on to deliver your package by 10:30 tomorrow morning. Absolutely, positively. Google is the leader in search, and continues to be. The advent of new competition has hardly made a dent in its market share….

Feeling stuck in a job you hate? Get in line.

A recent survey of 5,000 households found that only 45 percent of Americans are satisfied with their jobs right now, the lowest level on record since the Conference Board research group began issuing the annual survey 22 years ago.

Why don’t these unhappy employees just leave if they’re so bummed out? It’s the economy, stupid. With unemployment levels at record highs, quitting a gig that pays the bills is not high on everyone’s list of comfortable risks…

Recession Dictionary Entry 150/n. A person with more than one profession, such as a banker-slash-entrepreneur, or an accountant-slash-yoga instructor.

This term (perhaps first coined by Marci Alboher in her book One Person/Multiple Careers — notice the slash) reflects a major shift in thinking about work: People no longer expect to have just one career. In the recession in particular, we see “slash career” as a product of a transition or reinvention (e.g. you plan to ditch the banker or accountant altogether); maybe you’re a professional polymath who is juggling different interests talents. Or maybe the downturn has forced you to cobble together multiple sources of income, as Tina Brown described with “gig economy.” The recession has accelerated the trend.

We use slasher to describe people like some of our Lemonade Makers, including James Young, who became a real estate broker-slash-digital-entrepreneur when his business slowed dramatically last year. And it’s quickly catching on.

Nota bene: Not to be confused with actress-slash-model.

Example: What do you do for a living? I’m a slasher in dance and medicine…

road in sunrise150My friend Elmira Baysali has a job. She earns a living. And she’s sometimes more nervous than I am about the economy. That’s because, as mentioned, she has a job.

Last year was a banner year for her employer, non-profit group Endeavor, which helps entrepreneurs in emerging markets. The Omidyar Network gave a $10 million matching grant, and the annual fund-raising gala produced $2.2 million. The organization planned for staff expansion and new programs. “But we weren’t able to because the reality of the economy set in,” says Elmira, who is vice president of policy and outreach. On the personal side, “I saw friends lose their jobs, travel budgets cut. I thought, what if they decided they didn’t need a communications and policy person?”

There were no layoffs at Endeavor, but cutbacks can make anyone queasy. Fund-raising has been drying up for many, many non-profits; and across industries, the economy has thrown many people’s livelihoods out the window.

“It incentivized me,” she says. “I said to myself that I had to do something so that if I lost my job, I could do something. I’d be okay.”

Lots of laid-off workers have embraced their predicaments and tried new ventures, put new projects together—we’ve profiled some of them in our Lemonade Makers series…

Small dog, big earsA publishing executive with 25 years’ experience would like to walk your dog. Although she’s still perfectly ensconced in her senior level position, she knows the industry’s still feeling shock waves from the Great Media Meltdown of 2008. Ad spending crashed 14 percent in the first part of the year, hitting record lows, and if advertisers don’t start widening their wallets soon, she may soon be counted among the growing ranks of unemployed expected to hit 10 percent of workers before the end of the year. So she may turn to dog walking.

“She’s exploring,” says her coach, Tonia Mattu at Mercury Group. “She would do anything from dog walking to opening a bed and breakfast.”

Mattu is the newest member of the Mercury Group team and part of the new direction the company was forced to take in the downturn. Earlier this year, founders Jeff Lundwall and JD Rehm saw their recruiting leads dry up…

people silhouettes 150It always makes my heart skip a little beat each time I see even a reference to “themediaisdying,” the Twitter feed that has tracked the steady, eerie erosion of the media industry. For 15 years or so, I’ve made my living as a journalist. And yet, now, people are writing stories for free and few full-time writing positions are left. Sure does sound like “dying” to me.

But after hearing a few of the folks at the Mediabistro Circus conference last week, I got a little hope back – journalism and writing jobs are not going away, but thanks to the recession, they’re undergoing a swift, head-spinning transformation, and the profession’s new iteration will take some hard work.

The changes underway aren’t simply in the domain of journalism, though. New work and new careers are emerging in the recession based on approaches that everyone needs to pick up in order to survive and thrive, and emerge from this downturn intact and better than ever…

planner-datebook-calculator-150When I first met Vivian Chen, she was an investment banker. She had spent eight years working her way up the ranks to vice president. She had become an expert in her area of coverage, health care. Her staff numbered 100. And she had a global purview.

And then Vivian became one of the many casualties of the financial crisis. That’s when she came to see me.

I had been working in the public relations industry, with a focus on corporate communications. Since the recession began, I had also started to feel somewhat of a career coach, with so many friends of friends aspiring to move into PR. I found myself conducting informational interviews on a regular basis. Most of them were fairly standard introductory conversations, and I usually never heard from them again…

elizabeth-mcgowan-150Profiles of people who turn economic lemons into lemonade.

Elizabeth McGowan
New York, Upper West Side

Before recession: Corporate Technology Project Manager at Morgan Stanley

Now: Career/life coach at McGowan Coaching, where she helps others discover their passion and realize their potential through periods of transition in career and relationships.

When did you notice a shift in the economic climate?

In September 2007, layoff rumors were circulating. Around this time, I experienced a shift in my thinking about how fulfilled I was as a Project Manager. After attending a coaching class, I identified my talents through assessment, discovery, and review of my current path…

graudation-caps-150Worries about the recession are keeping one college senior up at night…but is she alone?

Call me prudent. As a graduating college senior, I make it a point to invest thought in my career plans. Like most colleges, my state university offers the services of a Career Center, holds career fairs, and welcomes company recruiters to communicate with the student body.

Recently, I attended an information session held by a well-known publishing house; a company that I am very familiar with and would love to work for. Having already attended an info session for this publishing house before the media meltdown, I was familiar with their presentation. So familiar, I was having déjà vu while listening to the pitch. Economic developments and the drastic downturn in the print industry were obviously taboo at this meeting…