That was the title of a recent New York Times article. You can read it here.
The gist of the article is this: In today’s tight job market, companies can attract talent they’d ordinarily never see. And despite conventional wisdom, many of these overqualified hires are working out.
Here’s what I think (and please add your own comments below):
First, these jobs seem to work out when the company feels pleased and excited to get this talent bonus. If a company has reservations about the new hire, these feelings will carry over.
Second, you have to be honest with yourself. Some people have no problem working in downsized jobs. Others won’t. If you’re in the latter category, you may have to find a way to earn a living, perhaps by starting your own business.
Many people find it easier to take a step back when they are either self-employed or moving to a new career field. That’s why many qualified professionals begin an online career as Virtual Assistants: they’re actually running a business and they can fire their bosses anytime.
Just saw a post along these lines on Facebook, with details disguised:
“Suppose you are in an abusive job environment and feel you can’t leave. What can you do in the meantime?”
This question is tough. Here’s what I would advise:
First talk to a mental health professional and/or coach. Build a strong support system so you can keep you inner equilibrium. You also need a reality check on the degree of abuse. If it’s really bad, you’re in a war zone and you may need to leave immediately, as if you had a family emergency. (You do!) Additionally, you need to work on your own personal growth support systems. It’s tempting to self-soothe with cake, cookies and even alcoholic beverages, but those choices just make you feel worse. You lose energy and feel even more frustrated or even depressed.
Caution: Be very careful when working witih anyone, whether health professional or coach. Be especially careful when anyone other than a licensed psychiatrist or psychologist suggests drugs such as anti-depressants. Even then, some mental health professionals say, get a second opinion. On the other hand, be wary of someone who dismisses your pain with, “All in your head” or suggests band-aid quickie solutions. I am not a medical practitioner or mental health professional, so I am just passing on what I’ve picked up by reading and conversations and what I would do myself. Get advice from true experts.
Second, create a Plan B. What would you do if you were fired? Begin to execute that plan because you are, in effect, firing yourself. Additionally, it is not unusual for frustrated workers to find themselves sabotaging their own success. You make a really, really bad mistake. You arrive late to meetings (or skip them altogether). You say the wrong thing to a coworker and pay a heavy price.
Third, if you are developing your own business or practice, invest in good help to accelerate your growth. You don’t need to spend a fortune but a few calls with a pro can save you months and weeks of time, not to mention the lost income.
To get started on career change:Your 21-Day Extreme Career Makeover
Yesterday I met a smart, attractive twenty-something executive at a networking event. He described himself as, “Unemployed.”
But after about five minutes of conversation, it was clear that he’s not really “unemployed.” He’s keeping busy with consulting assignments. He has a workload many longtime self-employed professionals would envy.
“I’m not really a consultant,” he said.
Why not? You don’t need a license. You’re walking the talk. Go for it.
Often people who get laid off find themselves taking on projects…and they get so busy they stop looking for corporate jobs. What’s wrong with that?
A Business week columnist presented what she calls “etiquette tips” for those who are laid-off as well as those who survive. Go here to read the column.
A few key ideas:
- When you’re laid off, write a few personal notes to colleagues in your current and recent jobs. Talk about why you enjoyed the business relationship. Don’t be afraid to ask for help with your job search.
- And when friends get laid off, the most helpful thing you can do is to pass along their resumes. Offer specific leads and connections, if you have them.
I would add:
Don’t offer advice unless you’re specifically asked. Unsought advice usually does more harm than good. And if you are laid off, don’t ask for advice from friends, family and colleagues. Ask for information. My rule of thumb is, “Network for information and pay for advice.”
If a close friend or family member has been laid off, send them a gift certificate for career coaching. That will be more helpful than a few luxury lunches. (Of course, an occasional treat will do wonders for their morale.) Other gifts might include a relaxing massage, an Amazon gift certificate or a gift certificate at an office supply store.
Joke gifts will backfire. When I was just starting my business, very conscious of cash flow, a friend sent me a silly book. Normally I would smile but at that time, I could have used a gift certificate at Amazon to buy some books I really needed.
Finally, anyone who’s laid off might consider an Internet business. I’ve listed a few ways to get started on this page: http://www.cathyrecommends.com
It’s easy to get scammed on the Internet. I’ve checked out these sources and they’re legit. I would start with Derek Gehl’s weekend course. I would also subscribe to Connie Ragen Green’s free teleseminars.
A few years ago, the newspaper USA Today carried a story by former Wall Street Journal reporter Les Gapay, now living out of his truck as he travels around national parks. Unable to find a job, Gapay uses library computers to freelance as a writer and publicist. Approaching sixty, he fears many jobs will go to younger colleagues.
Gapay’s story is an inspiring one because he refuses to give up. He reports increased income this year — he no longer qualifies for food stamps — and expects to be living in a real home someday.
How did an educated professional fall so low? Gapay matter-of-factly says he falls through the cracks. Self-employed workers do not qualify for unemployment and state agencies have no idea how to help. Insurance remains tied to employment, although more and more of us have joined the Free Agent Nation.
I believe we are in the middle of the greatest social transition since the Industrial Revolution. Then as now, millions of workers were displaced by forces beyond their control.
Two books offer a realistic perspective. William Bridges’s book JobShift and Daniel Pink’s Free Agent Nation. Both argue that traditional jobs will soon be obsolete, yet government, insurance, health care, and credit institutions haven’t caught on.
If you’re disturbed by these trends, I encourage you to write to your legislators, reminding them that unemployment benefits were designed for a different era. For most of us, self-employment is a matter of when, not if. Change won’t happen overnight, but we need to encourage our congressional representatives and senators to begin making laws for tomorrow’s world..
“How a Regular Guy Gets Homeless,” by Les Gapay. USA Today September 22, 2003 page 3B