Friday, July 6, 2012

Only The Charming Survive

It used to be that only the strong survive. But with shifting career dynamics and an increased tendency towards client service-oriented professions, it appears that the new skill to survive is not so much strength, but charm.

With the exception of the public service, job security is practically non-existent. In fact, it's not even desired by the new generation of workers; most young people want and expect to change jobs every 2-3 years, and in some cases, will also change cities. They are more virtual, more mobile and their focus is not security and wealth, but the elusive quality of happiness and loving what they do. Some look for more meaning, while others look for more fun, and others look for maximum mobility so that they can globetrot while picking up a paycheque instead of a back pack.

The good news is that they have plenty of options. The shift from robotic assembly line style professions means that there is more freedom to provide special services that a machine cannot; from the barista who sprinkles just the right amount of cinnamon into your dolce latte to the personal trainer who helps you get to the ideal weight, specialized client-service oriented professions are on the rise. The potential rewards include flexibility, adaptability and the all-important being your own boss.

The potential pitfalls? Low wages, no security, high risk, and potentially, crippling debt. But here's the difference maker: charm. The ability to sell yourself and be a true entrepreneur. The more that a person can talk themselves up and their skills, the bigger their potential revenue. While it's a well-known fact that people who present themselves better at interviews are more likely to get jobs, the charm factor can be the difference between wage slave and savvy businessperson. Smart use of social media and the old-fashioned recruiting in person can result in a far more lucrative and satisfying career than a 9 to 5 desk job.

While it's important to be able to actually deliver on the promised service, it appears that the promise is just as important now as the service itself. While parents used to tell their children to become doctors and lawyers, nowadays, more parents are telling their children to learn a trade so that they can't be fired. Trade school or law school, we should all add one more to the list: charm school. An old-fashioned meet and greet means a lot more than it used to and we should all be ready with a smile and some confidence.

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