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The Death of "Careers"
By Christine Durst & Michael Haaren
May 31, 2012
Web is like the mask in the famous Jim Carrey movie of the same name.
Just put it on a profession, an industry, a job, and Poof! –
instant chaos. If you need examples, look no further than the shoe
industry (Zappos), journalism, education (online colleges), the
outsourcing industry (virtual work)…. The list goes on and on.
Now, get ready for the mask to be firmly planted on the concept of “careers.”
THE FALL OF HP, THE RISE OF HU
The story of Hewlett-Packard conveys the “new reality” in a
nutshell. HP was the quintessential Silicon Valley company. It was
founded in a garage in Palo Alto in 1939 by Bill Hewlett and Dave
Packard, two electrical engineers out of Stanford University. (HP has
even preserved the garage; you can see photos of it online.)
HP grew rapidly. But despite their surging numbers, employees were
still considered family. Even Hewlett and Packard were famously
approachable. Steve Jobs, as a 12-year-old boy looking for an
electronics part, called Bill Hewlett at home for assistance. Hewlett,
then a wealthy entrepreneur, helped him find the part.
THE HP WAY
The company developed a managerial style called the “HP
Way.” Because it worked so well, the HP Way was widely emulated.
One of its core precepts was, “Don’t lay people off, even
when revenues get tight.”
The “no layoffs” rule generated tremendous loyalty,
cohesion, and esprit de corps. HP exploded with innovation,
productivity, and pride in its work.
Fast forward to today. HP has just announced another round of layoffs. This time, 27,000 people will lose their jobs.
Few companies aspire to the HP Way anymore. They, and their
employees, find themselves in a much different environment. The ruling
precept now is, “Heartless Uncertainty,” or HU.
This is not to disparage HP. Companies change their management styles
all the time. The Web and related technologies are the big
game-changers. And just as “heartless uncertainty” now
dominates many corporate outlooks, it also dominates the
career-development field. After all, jobs and careers come primarily
from companies. Their realities become ours. Their chaos becomes
PREPARING FOR HU
Here are three tips for adapting to this new environment. You may not
be able to map out a career strategy as in the old days, but at least
you can be ready for unpredictability.
1. Be a continuous learner. No matter how much expertise or experience
you have, much of it could be obsolete tomorrow (literally). And make
sure you include technology in your continuous-learning plan.
2. Embrace contradictory opinions and diverse views. You don’t
have to agree with people you can’t stand. This is about mental
suppleness and flexibility. It’s a form of “mental
play,” and play keeps the mind young.
3. In the same vein, get creative, and stay that way. There’s a
reason artists often seem younger than their years. (Just look at
Picasso painting in his 80s.) Creativity opens the springs in the mind
and spirit. Keep a journal, write poetry, draw pictures, tell your
children bedtime stories that you make up yourself. Embrace
improvisation and spontaneity.
After all, uncertainty is also known as freedom.
Christine Durst and Michael Haaren are leaders in the work-at-home
movement and advocates of de-rat-raced living. Their latest book
is Work at Home Now,
a guide to finding home-based jobs. They offer additional guidance on
finding home-based work at www.RatRaceRebellion.com. To read features
by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators
Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2012 BY STAFFCENTRIX, DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM