Brian Fuller's blog on the media, marketing and content creation

Recession-proof your job skills

Posted on | January 10, 2009 | 2 Comments

Friday’s labor report (lack of labor actually) was not cheery. In addition to the 11.1 million of us out of work, there are another 8 million working part time because they can’t find work and another 2 million who’ve given up looking. Conventional wisdom says it gets worse in the coming months. Until recently (see chart trend of the search term “great depression”), comparisons to the Great Depression were growing daily. Now we’re either tired of the talk or busy looking for work.
But the comparisons aren’t apples to apples by any stretch of the imagination. We overlook the impact of the Internet. In the same way the digital revolution increased the flow of capital and investment around the globe (and will speed recovery, honest!), so too will it be used to help the labor force. We’ve already seen it.
The Remote Worker
The number of remote workers exploded in the late ’90s and early 2000s as broadband and fast computers made it possible. “Full employment” probably will take time to recover; in the meantime the tough freelance life will hold sway. But it need not be tough: Use Web 2.0 social-networking and communications tools to create brigades of topical experts ready at a moment’s notice to develop their labor to a project. The mobile computing revolution makes you accessible to potential employers every minute of the work day. If you have a Web presence that displays your schedule, whereabouts and instant contact information, this greases the skids.
Companies typically farm out project work after massive layoffs, slowly at first and then more aggressive as their business recovers. It strikes me as natural and obvious that the infrastructure built in this decade with sophisticated, useful Web 2.0 tools will start to deployed better by companies (not just posting jobs on to solicit, start and manage project work from talented workers in far-flung areas.
The Aging Workforce
It’s going to have to happen because a legion of talented older workers will be fleeing high-priced metro areas for affordable rural digs as they approach their 50s, 60s and beyond and declining earning years. They have enormous experience but end up getting pink-slipped because, at this stage of their career, they’re high-ticket items for bean counters worried about not only salary but health care costs pushed up by older workers.
So you’ve begun networking on Facebook or LinkedIn or what not. That’s a start. You can use a blog or build a site through GoDaddy (outstanding customer service) to showcase your expertise, tell people where you are today and what your available hours are and how to get in touch. You’re now a virtual shopkeeper.
Supporting companies’ evolution
This is important not only for you but for agencies and companies looking to expand from their niches without hiring.
Our public relations agency, Blanc & Otus, often wants to add expertise to traditional media outreach and content creation. Wouldn’t it be great if there were virtual clearinghouses we could tap for video producers, event managers, script writers etc. to support creative publicity ideas?
It will take time of course. Companies for the most part have little grasp of the potential of enabling Web technologies beyond static Web pages and “this Twitter thing.” But companies will have to remold themselves in this economy because we’re in it for the long haul.
And a little thought-leadership on your part as a freelancer/contractor will eventually get you hired full time if that’s what you’re aiming for.

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2 Responses to “Recession-proof your job skills”

  1. Anonymous
    January 12th, 2009 @ 8:35 pm

    The fact is that many professional journalists are bad practitioners of journalism.Cell Phone Maybe if they were better, people would find newspapers relevant.”
    Wirbel: “Who pays for maintaining useful national/world coverage? mobile phone The Economist can’t subsidize the entire literate world knowing the status of Kenya Kikuyus,cellphone for example

  2. Jackie
    January 13th, 2009 @ 10:22 am

    Brian, Tina Brown has an interesting piece over at her Daily Beast site that speaks to this issue: If nothing else, this new gigeconomy is going to force the government to manage health benefits: nobody is going to be associated with a company anymore!

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