One of the biggest fears American workers have is job loss. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 12.2 million adults are unemployed, a little over one-third of them for more than 27 weeks (4 January, 2013). Long gone are the days of the previous generation who could enjoy the security of employer loyalty.
An Even Bleaker Picture
A recent post by Monster Canada contributing writer Joe Issid, “Why You Should Never Stay in the Same Job for More Than Four Years,” (2013) provides a valuable warning. Not only does Issid remind readers that times have changed, he explained: “Today, we’re living in an age of job promiscuity, where regularly changing jobs is not just tolerated, but encouraged.”
Unfortunately, workers can not depend on a lasting relationship with their employers. According to Issid, here’s why employees should make a conscious effort to move on after within four years on a job:
1. Rapidly evolving skills sets require employees to be flexible in terms of their own talents and abilities. Those who stay in a job for longer than four years typically become comfortably complacent in the development of new skills. Employers may see such individuals as becoming obsolete. Issid makes a good suggestion to search the want ads to see what skills employers are looking for in your specific career; then determine if you have them (and, I would add, that you can document these skills).
2. Technological advancements are continual, and workers must keep up. Although Issid narrows this specifically to those working in tech fields, 90% of jobs require some level of technical skill and according to MSNBC, it is a lack of current technical skills that hinders job seekers most (9 July, 2010). Issid also quite rightly suggested that even if your current employer does not advance the company’s use of technology, you still should seek ways to advance your own technical literacy.
3. Perception is a reality, fair or not. Issid’s comparison to dating someone who has just come out of a long-term relationship makes sense. He mentioned that a new employer will most likely be asking questions about a candidate coming from a job held more than four years. “Will this person be easy to train? Will he adapt well to a new environment? What made this person leave after so many years? Are his skills current? Is he motivated?” As one who has served as a hiring manager, I would also be thinking: If this candidate is not taking the initiative to improve her skills while looking for a job, she certainly won’t demonstrate it later on the job.
4. Career advancement is vital to staying marketable, and Issid stated that workers should advance and/or branch out into new areas within two years at a position. He makes a suggestion that workers should discuss options and opportunities with their current employer as a way of showing initiative and finding out what skills are most valued.
One of the easiest and most effective ways to boost your career and secure the longevity of your employment is e-learning.
The E-Learning Solution
The first two objections that most working adults have about a suggestion like this is that they have neither time nor money to go back to school But this is why e-learning can be a great solution to keeping your technical and career-related skills up-to-date. As I wrote in “5 E-Learning Options to Quickly Boost Your Career,” (10 September, 2012), a variety of online choices exist. From a “courses only approach,” to digital badges and MOOCs, you can have the flexibility you need at the right price; some online courses are even offered for free. You can also focus on specific skill development.
There are some additional advantages to e-learning that will help you meet the four concerns Issid described in his post. Consider the following:
• There are three main soft skills employers are looking for today: good communication skills (especially written and virtual), an entrepreneurial spirit, and an outgoing, positive attitude. E-learning by its very nature will force you to improve your reading, writing, and virtual communication skills. You can also strengthen your ability to be inventive and dynamic during your courses (See “3 Creative Activities to Impress Employers, 31 October, 2012).
• Employers are also looking for intrapreneurs, those who can be movers and shakers within an organization to help it succeed in its mission in new, creative ways. E-learning can teach and help you practice intrapreneurship by providing you with a venue to build and demonstrate your skills.
• E-learners have an opportunity to develop ways to stand out favorably in their careers in a host of other areas, too, such as project management, team work, and leadership.
• Online options allow workers an easy means to build an electronic portfolio of their work that can be shared with current or prospective employers. See “How to Organize Schoolwork with LiveBinders,” (26 November, 2012) for example.
It is certainly understandable that some employees may be hesitant to pursue e-learning; however, realize that you not only can succeed as an online student, given all of the available resources, but more importantly, you must. Don’t let yourself become one of those workers who gets sidelined from a job or during an employment search. Take charge of your career with e-learning and keep your job from quitting you.
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