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  • The New Era of Protean Careers

    Welcome to the age of Protean Careers. Yes, Protean Careers; and best you get used to the term for it’s here to stay.  Indeed, the American workplace has changed forever; and this is presenting significant problems for many who have come to depend on the “Industrial Age” workplace.

    Consider This

    * No jobs or careers for life anymore; no job security

    * No guaranteed benefits, vacation days, sick days, pensions, or even paychecks

    * Big companies eating up little ones; and entire industries disappearing overnight

    * High unemployment and no new significant “labor intensive” industries on the horizon

    A SHIFT to a new transformational workplace

    The American workplace has seen, and will continue to see, a monumental SHIFT where employers will no longer take care of employees or be responsible for the livelihood of individuals.  Today, and for the foreseeable future… individuals must assume full responsibility for the management of their own careers and sources of income.

    Many factors have contributed to this workplace SHIFT including technology and outsourcing (as a result of less expensive labor provided by 1.8 BILLION new inductees into the free market system from all the countries freed from the shackles of communism in the early 1990’s).  It’s not just China and India.  Another factor has to do with the deepest recession we’ve experienced since the Great Depression; where the bursting of the pre-recession housing and stock market bubbles has shrunk the wealth of the average American household by an estimated 20%.

    Protean Careers

    The Protean Career is a concept where each person must 1) monitor and assess the job market; 2) anticipate future developments, trends, and industry shifts, 3) gain the necessary skills, qualifications, relationships, and assets to meet the shifts, and 4) adapt in order to thrive in an ever-changing workplace; an ever-changing global world.  This requires lifelong education, multiple streams of income (or safety nets), an entrepreneurial approach (even if employed), and versatility never required since the Industrial Revolution… if ever!

    The term “Protean Career” was first coined in 1976 by Douglas Tim Hall in his book, Careers in Organizations.  The word “Protean” comes from the Mythical Greek Sea God “Proteus,” who was best known for 1) predicting and foretelling the future and 2) his versatility and adaptability to acclimate himself to successfully meet and thrive in the future he envisioned.

    In today’s transformational, constantly changing workplace, we all must master the strengths of Proteus!

    Unlimited opportunities

    There may be limited jobs out there; but there are unlimited opportunities. Today, anyone can reach out and touch 7 billion people around the globe for jobs, business opportunities, information… for almost anything. But here’s the reality we all must face:  Each of us must take responsibility for our individual futures.  We can no longer depend on businesses / employers; and we certainly can’t depend on government.  We MUST depend on ourselves!

    Job seekers must become opportunity seekers; the entrepreneurial spirit must be reignited throughout our society; and our educational system, the Workforce System, career coaches, and employment professionals / authors must acknowledge this SHIFT and better prepare students and customers for what has already arrived… the new, global, and perplexing workplace.

    I have created the first-ever working model on how to approach Protean Careers (For full information, please join my LinkedIn Protean Career group). But let me share with you six initial strategies for thriving in this transformational workplace:

    1. Reduce television time and spend an hour a day contemplating the future and where you fit in.  You can’t change anything tomorrow with the same thoughts you have today.
    2. Don’t put all your financial eggs in one basket; consider multiple sources of income.
    3. Bring more value to the marketplace tomorrow than you did today; invest in lifelong education and increase your worth, so you are compensated accordingly.
    4. Create your own job. You don’t have to invest big bucks to start a business.  Just seek out opportunities and go for it!  Become a painter, a cook, an electrician, a subcontractor, or form a web-based business. Be resourceful and identify ways to self-generate income.
    5. Downsize your life and live within your means. The federal government is broke and most states are as well.  All of society must become fiscally responsible.
    6. Invest in good health. No one can build a thriving future with poor health, no energy, and a negative mindset.  We all must work as hard on ourselves as we do on our careers.

    The old days and the old ways are gone forever. The mantra for the future is “anticipate, adapt, and act!” For more information Google “Protean Career” and “Proteus.”  And visit my website www.jayblock.com and click on the Link for Protean Careers.

    The future isn’t what it used to be, and we can’t operate like we did in the past any longer.  For those who embrace the NEW workplace and societal SHIFT, unlimited and untapped opportunities lie ahead.


    Jay Block is an industry pioneer and the nation’s leading motivational career coach.  Jay is a best-selling author of 15 books, including his latest blockbuster: 101 Best Ways To Land a Job in Troubled Times (McGraw-Hill).  He has a 20-year record of success for creating and recreating the career management industry. His website is: www.jayblock.com

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    Posted in Career Development, entrepreneurship, Job Search, Success Strategies
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