The New E-conomy And Your Job Search


Find Out What The Economy Means For Your Career

By Jessica Ollenburg, HRS CEO
As Published By Employment Times on April 4, 2001

How will new technologies affect the workplace and job seeking efforts? That is what both job seekers and employed individuals have been asking these days. The questions primarily relate to the Internet, e-commerce and increased computer automation.

"How do these really affect me?" and "How do I best prepare for the future?" are the most common questions. Immediately on the heels of these questions, the employment market began to change. Jobs were downsized, applicant competition increased, job security became threatened. The questions changed to "Is this a good time to change positions?", "My work has lessened…is my job in jeopardy?", "How do I protect my job?" and "How are the increase in e-commerce and loss of jobs related?"

As an HR Management and Teambuilding Consultant, I have the privilege of "seeing the big picture" even before it happens. Through 20 years experience, I’ve witnessed corporate behavior in several different economic cycles, and I’ve seen how one business affects another business. Corporations stop hiring before they begin to downsize. Training issues, teambuilding programs and job descriptions are affected before the hiring stops. The number of candidates applying to each career opportunity increases or decreases with economic conditions. Suddenly the demand for resumes and job search training spikes!

Of course there is an "E" in "Economy." The popularization of software automation via e-commence and e-communications certainly does affect the economy, and consequently the job market. The "E" has actually most likely delayed some of the effect of the imbalance between jobs and applicants. The "tight labor market" caused wages to spiral upward, probably faster than the market could tolerate. The "E" has helped businesses through this. By replacing the missing employees with computers and e-commerce, companies could better tolerate the labor shortage and continue performance.

Enough technical talk! What does this mean to the employed individual? Sectors and industries are affected differently. Keep watching the statistics (even though they’re only hindsight). Several manufacturing employers already began downsizing last fall, so some are already rebounding. Others may not have experienced slowdown at all. Some were already so short of employees at the time they would have needed to cut back, that no jobs needed to be downsized. Business to business organizations are experiencing waves in sales as each of their business customers are affected at different intervals. Has your company been affected? How was it handled?

Smart companies cut back where they reasonably can - when they need to! Don’t lose faith in a company that behaves intelligently!! If you’re concerned that your position is at risk, consider this… Is yours a position that can be eliminated if company sales temporarily decrease? If it is, you can best protect yourself by proving flexibility; that is, the competency and willingness to assist in other areas as company needs change. This is the concept of "E"…reliable, cost effective, future oriented and quickly adaptable. Offer your employer the "E" in "Employee"! Intelligent employers will safeguard their companies by doing more with less resources. If you prove yourself as a valuable team member for today and tomorrow, you will have done your best to safeguard your position!

As far as your future goals, nothing has changed. Optimizing your career still revolves around dependability, work ethic, acquiring skills for the future and proving the ability to commit to an employer when given the opportunity! If a business needs to downsize, the business looks to retain the people needed tomorrow who will be flexible to assist with competency and without idle time today. If you’re uncertain where you fit, ask your supervisor or HR professional at an appropriate time in the appropriate diplomatic manner. And if you’re not comfortable with these options, ask an outside expert in HR or career strategies. Above all, do not assume or panic. You can still use this market to your advantage, no matter what sector or industry you’re employed in! If your employer’s needs have changed, this is just another opportunity for you to safeguard your career, gain visibility with empowered decision makers and demonstrate the "E" in "Efficiency!"