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DOLLARS & SENSE - AUGUST 2015

By: Rabbi Max Anteby

BEWARE OF THE CHANGING MARKET

PART I

Many people view their jobs or careers as a sort of treadmill – you get on the treadmill in the morning, exert yourself all day, get off at the end of the day, and bring home a paycheck at the end of the week.  In the past, this view was somewhat accurate. Our grandfathers were merchants in Syria and they stayed merchants on the lower East side. Similarly, our parents generally worked at the same jobs for 20, 30 or 40 years.

Times have changed. Modern economic realities demand that you no longer just go about “doing your job,” but must rather keep moving within an ever-changing market environment. Today, practically every job evolves continually, and no matter what field you’re in, you cannot realistically expect to be doing the same job the same way for years to come.

Because planning a long-term career requires understanding the changing playing field, it is important to be able to understand the four types of changing conditions and how to respond to each. This month, we will address two of them.

THE DEAD END

A Dead End happens when you reach the maximum potential salary for the type of work you are doing and you no longer have the potential for upward mobility. In other words – there’s no good reason why someone should pay you more for the work you’re able to do.

If you are happy with where you are and prefer to remain in your current position despite the lack of future growth, that’s fine. Otherwise, if your family and expenses are still expected to grow, then it is time to make a significant career change.

The right time to plan for a Dead End is well before you reach it since Dead Ends don’t happen suddenly – they are usually evident months or even years before you reach them. It is therefore important to maintain a long-range career focus to anticipate a Dead End and plan an alternate route that will allow you to keep moving. 

Begin laying the groundwork early by networking with friends and colleagues. Improve your skills and make yourself marketable in other areas. Familiarize yourself with the latest technology and computer skills relevant to the career direction you wish to take. 

It’s important not to mistake a Detour or a Full Stop Sign for a Dead End. Sometimes it can be as simple as approaching your employer and asking for more responsibilities outside your current area of expertise or responsibility that can add value to your services. Since you are a known entity to the boss, he might be more likely to give the added responsibility to you rather than look to hire someone from the outside. 

THE CLIFF

The Cliff is by far the most dangerous road condition you can encounter on your journey. If you don’t see a Cliff coming, the results could be, well, it is best not to describe.

A Cliff means your career is about to come to an abrupt end. In today’s economy, jobs are constantly being automated or outsourced. Many careers that existed a few years ago are no longer in existence today. If established companies like Kodak, Polaroid and Borders Bookstores could be rendered obsolete, imagine the thousands of jobs that go with it.

Don’t be lazy or afraid to learn new skills, and don’t ignore the writing on the wall that might spell the end of your career. You must constantly look ahead and understand where economic trends are headed and then adapt to the new reality accordingly. 

Sometimes, the change has nothing to do with your industry or field of expertise. As people age, their ability to effectively perform certain types of jobs naturally diminishes. You must therefore also consider whether your job is too strenuous, is too high pressure, involves too much travel, or involves multitasking beyond your ability. There is no doubt your experience, wisdom and dedication offset many of these considerations for your employer, but they might still represent an Internal Cliff for you as the years go by. 

Keep in touch with your personal feelings and be sure to change directions before you hit a Cliff. 

Next month, we will address The Dip and The Plateau.