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New Job Search Strategy: Think like a “Free Agent”

Many professional athletes are reaping the benefits of being free agents and so should we! Free agents are not under contract; therefore, their options are open and their focus is on constant improvement for the next assignment. This idea of “free agency” for the job seeker is being batted around a lot in this current job market. As part of our new year, new strategy, we need to embrace the idea that we work for us now! As the CEO of our own company, we need to invest in our brand by updating our skills so we are prepared to move on to the next opportunity whenever it appears!

Nothing is Permanent Anymore! Gone are the days of 45 year careers and retiring with a gold watch. In fact, the average job tenure is 4.6 years (BLS.gov). That’s as many as 10 jobs in a working lifetime! Motivational speaker Earl Nightingale said, “Job security is gone. The driving force of a career must come from the individual.” We can’t depend on any one company to provide us one good job for life!

You Work for You now! Nightingale continues, “Jobs are owned by the company, you own your career!” Don’t count on anyone else to invest more in you than you invest in yourself. Your responsibility is to you first… do you not think that companies look after their best interests? Another entrepreneur and speaker, Jim Rohn, put it this way: “Work harder on yourself than you do on your job.”

Do your best where you are but keep your options open: Career expert Alan Allard writes, “By all means, make and keep commitments to your employer just not ones that restrict your options in the long run. The only real security you have are your skill sets, your work ethic, your imagination, your interpersonal skills and your emotional intelligence...as well as your ability to navigate the marketplace with agility.

Think of each job opportunity as an assignment: Free agents and freelance workers understand that, because they are solely responsible for their own financial success, they must think in terms of lining up the next project. If you are currently looking for employment, consider part-time, consulting, contract, temporary service, or a even starting your own small business as a bridge to your next opportunity. It doesn't have to be the perfect job (the truth is there is no perfect job) to offer the benefits of a little financial boost, networking, added experience, and forward movement. Hannah Morgan, CareerSherpa.com, encourages job seekers to think like free agents because, "The longer you are out of work, the harder it is to believe in yourself."

Where do "Free Agents" go for help? Be sure to stay connected with the Business and Job Center at Richland Library for resources, classes, and career development assistance that will help you build your career brand, enhance your employabilty, and refine your self-marketing tools for success in this new job search landscape.


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