There’s nothing like a recession that rips more than seven million jobs out of the economy to get you focused on your career. The road back to full employment will be a years-long slog during which survivors will learn this important lesson: The key to success in the 21st-century job market is to reinvent yourself. Think of the U.S. workforce on a timeline, says Pamela Mitchell, author of The 10 Laws of Career Reinvention (Dutton, $25.95). The 1950s spawned the era of the Company Man, who stayed loyal to one employer for his entire career in exchange for retirement security. In the 1980s, we became Free Agents, porting our 401(k)s and our expertise to the employer with the best deal.
The 2007-09 recession marked the beginning of the Age of the Reinventor, says Mitchell, a career coach and founder of the Reinvention Institute, in Miami. Reinventors assemble a portfolio of transferable skills and move strategically among occupations, industries and workplace cultures as the economy and business trends dictate. “They’ve stopped looking outside themselves for job security, relying only on their ability to reinvent themselves,” Mitchell writes.
You may be contemplating a career switch because your industry is in trouble, the work you’re doing is unfulfilling or your employer isn’t meeting your needs. Whatever the reason, you’ll need a new set of job-hunting skills to make a big career move. We’ll look at what’s needed to transition to another industry, or to leave the corporate sector altogether for opportunities in the government, the nonprofit sector or the classroom.