Series Finale

December 19, 2013
BY Elliot Lasson

101813_lasson_elliotIn this final installation of my column, I reflect on the topics that have been of interest to me over the past year. I also look at the current state of employment (including in Jewish Baltimore) as well as ahead to employment’s future.

I have preached the importance of having an elevator speech to concisely introduce oneself professionally. Beyond that, I talked about having an up-to-date resume, one which is good to go, accessible from anywhere, to send on a moment’s notice. I have related some of the feedback that I have received from recruiters and employers and identified things they have told me are turnoffs to hiring managers. I have encouraged everyone to have a professional mentor from whom to learn.

I have pointed out the importance of nonverbal communication. In that context, I have suggested that people listen to themselves speak and be aware of “fillers” that can diminish the crispness of their message. I have discussed having quality eye contact to engage and connect; in communication, we need always to be aware of the first impression we make on others, as those initial reactions to us are so difficult to counterbalance later.

I have dealt with generational issues. For young people, I have suggested
careers in STEM and extolled the importance of internships through which one can learn valuable technical and social skills. For not-so-young people, I made some suggestions for reinvention. I have also pointed out that managing the millennial generation requires special strategies that include a balance of direction and latitude.

I will end this run by revisiting the question with which I opened my first JT column, “How’s the job market doing?” This, indeed, is a relevant question. Looking at both now and ahead, let me leave you with some observations.

We are living through an evolving time. The speed of technology and the instant connectivity of the world are here to stay. Rather than marginalizing this as simply a phase, we have experienced a disruption, primarily due to technology. A disruptive innovation is one that helps create a new market and value network and eventually goes on to disrupt an existing market and value network (over a few years or decades), displacing an earlier reality. The term is used in business and technology literature to describe innovations that improve a product or service in ways that the market does not expect. With technology, we will continue to see additional disruptions. However, this time they might come every 10 years rather than over a few hundred years. In history, we know of a few examples, such as the proverbial invention of the wheel, the invention of the printing press and the industrial revolution. Technology will invariably drive many yet-to-be-identified disruptions.

This no doubt has ramifications on the emergence of new jobs and the redefinition of existing ones. Proficiency in science, technology, engineering and math will be critical to keeping pace. Flexibility, adaptability and nimbleness are key responses, as we must constantly keep our finger on the pulse of the changes around us.

In five years, will Amazon Drone be replacing Amazon Prime and be delivering our packages the same day as we order them? Maybe yes, maybe no. But what is certain is that getting a job at Amazon, or any other company for that matter, will be different than it is today.

Elliot D. Lasson, Ph.D., is executive director of Joblink of Maryland, Inc.

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