Food for Thought

Excerpt from Preparing for Today's Global Job Market: From the Lens of Color

Food for Thought

I recently had conversations with colleagues regarding the ongoing challenges of today’s job market.  Many are still having difficulties finding employment and/or making a career change.

 This phenomenon of challenge within a job search process is not new.  It continues simply because the rules of the “game” have changed and far too many people are not aware of the new “play book”.  In 2013, my publisher, Palgrave Macmillan published my book Preparing for Today’s Global Job Market:  From the lens of color (Robinson-Easley, 2013, New York:  Palgrave Macmillan).   I wrote this book to help demystify the job search processes and my consulting team and I have provided pro bono training for many years on the topics addressed within the book.

 From time to time, I will post excerpts from the book.  The excerpt below is taken in its entirety from the book (pages 12-16).  The only change that was made to the text was an update of my credentials.  This book was published in 2013 and I was promoted to Full Professor in 2014, in concert with assuming a new position as Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs.

 I invite you to reflect upon what is written; comment and feel free to posit questions.  I may not daily log in, but I am increasing the frequency of my log in’s to WomElle’s Community site.

 “The Realities of a New Organizational Psychological Contract: Your Career, Your Responsibility, Your Personal Development Strategy


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

William Henley, 1888[i]

There are fundamental realities in today’s global job market that merit disclosure and your acknowledgment. First, in order to understand what is occurring in today’s global job market, erase your prior assumptions, paradigms, and expectations.

Second, understand that it is YOU who is responsible for navigating through this continually emerging and dynamic job market—not your employer.

Third, understand that when you are released from a job or have difficulty finding a job, it is not the end of your world. It could very well be a new beginning if you embrace what is silently being conveyed to you and choose to understand and evoke the change that you need.

Fourth, the requirements of today’s workforce will continue to expand. Growth is what we are about in this world. Change, under normal circumstances is sometimes hard, but the need to change the “self” in order to move beyond current employment barriers can sometimes be overwhelming. However, changing one’s self in order to effectively navigate the current work environment is not overwhelming or impossible to achieve. You have to know where to start and learn the “new rules of the game,” while simultaneously understanding that there are workable and achievable strategies for evoking the required change. Equally important, we have to understand how our personal lens and cultural propensities will moderate our response patterns and readiness to accept change and forward movement.

Understanding who you are, your biases that are informed by many aspects of your cultural background, personality, belief systems, and attitude about life will make a difference as to how successful you are in embracing the change that this world continues to undertake.

Language as an Influencer on How We View Our World

For example, a significant aspect of how we process and cope with change in our life is manifested in our language—the language we speak and the language patterns we allow others to use to address us. Yet, when we deconstruct and analyse our lens and linguistic patterns, the knowledge we gain about the “self” can and will allow us to emerge in better control of even the direst situations. I often hear people say the word “try” versus “will.” While many do not understand the differences—they are more than subtle. The word “try” often can be interpreted as one believing that they are not in control of the outcome. Yet the use of the word “will” conveys an unbridled determination to do what is needed and simultaneously expect the right outcome.

Understanding the pattern of language in the business environment is also crucial. It allows you to compare and contrast your articulation of the world to that of your organizational environment. It is common for organizations to increase the number of messages that call for innovation strategies in their branding and rebranding efforts (Lair, Sullivan, and Cheney, 2005). The real question is do you recognize and understand those messages? Equally important, do you understand what those messages mean relative to the change that the organization intends to undertake and are you prepared to be a part of that shift—or are you embracing outdated paradigms relative to what constitutes success in your organization?

I have served in higher education for 21 years. I am a Professor of Management and management consultant to public and private sector organizations. In addition to teaching, I have worked in higher education administration in the capacities of director, dean, assistant provost and Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs. And, before coming into academia, I spent over 20 years in the corporate business sector in management and executive positions primarily in the area of human resource management and organization development, which significantly informs my perspectives articulated in this book. Yet, I am keenly aware that despite my three degrees and work experiences, today’s global environment has forced me to constantly engage in an ongoing learning process.

I cannot afford to rest on my laurels because I possess a PhD. In a matter of moments that doctorate can and will become “stale” with respect to today’s new and emerging knowledge. As a result, I am always engaging in ways to learn—I have no choice. It is not my option but a requirement in order to stay current in today’s environment, and it is not an option for you as well. Employers expect their workers to be current in not only their relevant skills but also the core competencies that are critical in today’s global market—a concept that I continue to emphasize throughout this book.

Over time, many social scientists have concluded our knowledge; relationship to self, others, activity, and to our world is constituted and mediated by our engagements in our world; our resulting discourse as well as our social practices (Ricoeur, 1992; Cobb, 1994; Piaget, 1970/1972; Steffe and Gale, 1995; Tobin, 1993; von Glasersfeld, 1993; Packer and Goicoechea, 2000). Simply put, how you respond to today’s job market, your position in it, and strategies for evoking change will be informed by how you “see,” internalize, and verbally articulate your world. The dynamics of this global world, where barriers that previously existed are daily being redefined and/or removed, suggest that we personally challenge our knowledge, relationship to self, and perception of our world—particularly our perception of this global world and resulting global labour markets.

Therefore, the point in which this book begins relative to providing strategies for moving through today’s challenging job market is at a very personal level where you are challenged to introspectively look at yourself. The poem Invictus by William Henley is very appropriate for setting this tone. You see, you truly are the captain of your soul!

You will never be able to effectively work through a global organizational foci if you personally feel and internalize limitations. I recently over head a conversation in a restaurant where a young woman was vehemently stating that she would never ever in life travel to certain countries—yet, obviously she did not understand that these same countries are drawing major US businesses. Consequently, if her employer overheard her discourse as did I, automatically she could be perceived as a person unfit for international travel and/or work; thereby potentially missing what could emerge as important career opportunities.

Today’s global environment suggests that challenge is what we know and challenge is what we will continue to “do.” Consequently, we have to be willing to embrace a different approach as to how we process our reality. Historically, we have had to constantly adjust our paradigmatic perspectives to accommodate environments that may be designed to lock out certain people. Women, for example, have routinely faced visible as well as invisible walls, despite the contention by many that we are moving through the glass ceilings. Employees across the world face similar issues, which are only moderated by their particular “difference.” But if we are to globally survive, we have to learn to strategize—and remove barriers. However, before we work to remove those barriers, we have to remove the personal barriers we allow to reside in the recesses of our soul—feelings of limitation, not being good enough, or blind acceptance of what we perceive to be the status quo.

We also have to have a realistic perspective regarding the cause of the massive global unemployment numbers. While many organizations are downsizing due to economic constraints, just as many are downsizing because they are retooling their workforce. Unfortunately, many people do not understand that there are new competencies and requisite skills that are needed by organizations that are retooling as well as repositioning themselves in today’s global market. Equally unfortunate is the reality that many people do not understand the fundamentals of how to competitively enter and/or reenter this job market.

We have to be honest and question if we even know what organizations (private, public, as well as governmental) are looking for in today’s globally competitive environment. Equally important, do we know how to acquire those competencies and skills? Your educational qualifications will not be the only prerequisite that gets you in the door. And, you have to believe that you are entitled to new opportunities that can and will emerge if you put forth the effort to alter your foundational competencies and skills. So, let’s take a moment to reexamine the issue of lens.

I have learned over the course of the past several years that when I work in culturally diverse communities and/or organizations that have historically incurred an imbalance in power, developing an understanding of that which gives rise to both the larger structures of power as well as those who are on the opposite end of that power continuum is critical. From a global context, many communities fall in this category, yet there is debate relative to the appropriateness of viewing the individual as helplessly manipulated by larger structures of power (Foucault, 1977; Barrett, Thomas, and Hocevar, 1995), whether you are in a different country or in the United States. Over time the very power structures we challenge often become objects of transformation even as members engage in resistance, which only points to our need to understand the recursive dynamics of organizational and global change (Barrett, Thomas, and Hocevar, 1995).

Despite the pain and hurt we experience when victimized by job loss, underemployment, and other fall outs from a very volatile economy, the lessons we are challenged to learn are the new rules of the workforce, our ability to identify and internalize the critical core competencies and skills required in today’s tumultuous markets, and to go deep inside ourselves and evoke a spiritual, mental, emotional, and intellectual transformation.

I believe the shake up that is occurring in today’s job market, while in real time is negatively impacting people, will also serve as our motivation for massive personal transformation. As a workforce, we are being forced to grow in order to expand our options and ability to effectively perform in a very different global work environment. Equally important, understand that the definition of a global market has nothing to do with whether or not you personally are working in a different country. The dynamics of change that now impacts organizations whose products and services reside on an international, multinational, or transnational basis suggest the organization rising (if not already) to a different level. Economic pressure precipitated what Jack Welch once called the boundary-less organization (Direnzo and Greenhaus, 2011), which multiple sectors are now embracing. A boundary-less organization seeks to blur or minimize barriers that inhibit communications and productivity across vertical, horizontal, external, and geographical organizational boundaries (2011), which results in boundary-less careers that are independent from traditional organizational career arrangements.”  (Robinson-Easley, 2013, New York:  Palgrave Macmillan)


[i] Invictus—a poem by William Henley, which is now in public domain was written in (1888) and appears in his book, A book of verses. London: D. Nutt.

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