Way back in the dark ages of 2010, I wrote a book called The Career Activist Republic. It introduced a number of principles that, in retrospect, were probably ahead of their time. But, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, the global recession and the social justice movement, it has suddenly become more relevant than ever. Perhaps that’s why there’s been a dramatic increase in the number of visitors to The Career Activist Republic page on Facebook.
Now, before I go any further, I freely acknowledge that the book shows its age from time-to-time. A lot has changed in the world of work over the past decade. Nevertheless, the foundational principles of career activism remain as valid today as they were when the book was first published.
Why is that important to solution providers?
Because those principles are exactly the kind of guidance the best talent is looking for today. While some could definitely benefit from advice on how to write a better resume or make a good impression in an interview, most of the very best talent are most interested in strategies and tactics that will keep their careers moving forward, despite all of today’s challenges. They want to know how they can take care of their careers because they no longer trust that their employers will do so for them.
So, What Are the Basic Principles of Career Activism?
The pandemic, the recession, the social justice movement have all made acquiring top talent criticfally important to an organization’s ultimate success. There are now more, not fewer openings for top talent in the job market. And, that need – employers’ desperate dependency on what talented workers can do for them – gives working men and women the power to control their own fate. They can require that any job they take not only works for the employer, but works for them as well.
To tap into that power, however, workers must first understand exactly what talent is and isn’t. Talent is the capacity for excellence. It is not a skill or an occupational field. It is what a person loves to do AND does best – the intersection of passion and ability. And everyone possesses it. Talent is as characteristic of our species as our opposable thumb. However, to be truly talented, a person must first know what their talent is and then work at developing it.
Career activists have that knowledge. They also take it to work with them in a very different way from everyone else. A few are happy to be gig workers or what we used to call free agents. Most, however, aren’t interested in being business self-owners, especially in today’s uncertain economy. They want to work for themselves, but they want to be employed by somebody else. They want a job where they can apply their talent in meaningful work and be respected and rewarded for the results they achieve. In effect, they don’t want to be Me, Inc, but instead Me (TM). They want to be known as a top performer.
Finally, talented people take the development of their talent and the management of their career very seriously. They don’t rely on their employer for advancement, but instead, make it their responsibility to keep their talent at the state-of-the-art and their career defined by jobs where they can both deliver high performance for their employer and add to their own capacity for excellence. To do that, they are as dedicated about building “career fitness” as any athlete is to building physical fitness. It is a regimen that enables them to achieve and maintain excellence.
And, that’s the opportunity for solution providers.
While career activists understand that they must build career fitness, few know how to do so. Their career self-management skills are rudimentary at best, so a company that supplements its job search content with insights on how best to increase one’s career strength and endurance will develop a loyal following, not only among active job seekers, but among those hard to reach passive prospects whom employers typically define as top talent and desperately need.
Food for Thought,
Peter Weddle is the author or editor of over two dozen books and a former columnist for The Wall Street Journal. He is also the founder and CEO of TAtech: The Association for Talent Acquisition Solutions. You can check out his latest books on Amazon or in the TAtech Bookstore.