How safe is your career from extinction?

Photo by Cliff Beckworth

In this day and age, career survival has been the name of the game. You want to be in a position that you can expect to be able to earn an income, reach your personal goals, and see a future.

Unfortunately, the dynamics of careers has changed so dramatically that you may find yourself needing to assess your career options and direction frequently throughout your life time. The 30 year job is extinct. Very few people will find themselves hired by a company at 25 and retired by 55. Those are realities and so you have to position yourself for career resiliency.

Thoughts from an article in CIO by Thornton A. May: (longtime industry observer, management consultant and commentator)

Scientists tell us that animals avoid extinction in two ways. First, they adopt new behaviors that bestow competitive advantage in a changed environment. Second, they compete among their own kind for the affections of the opposite sex. CIOs certainly will need to find new competitive advantages in their new environment as they compete among their own kind for the affections of companies willing to hire them.

How do you avoid career extinction?

There are many ways but there are several key ways that will create much more success than others.

  1. Attitude. I get together with a team of business leaders each month for our Christian Business Leaders breakfast. This group is filled with astute, successful business owners and managers and we talk about business operations from a Christian perspective. We have circled back to attitude in three different sessions and the message is clear. If you are running around with a bad attitude in this economy, you will be the last choice in hiring and the first choice in firing. Take your chances but I would Check your attitude and I give you 5 reasons here.
  2. Build your skills. If you are hanging on to decade old or older ways of doing things or continue to say this is the way we have always done it, you are going to be the one pushed under the bus when the going gets hard. I personally believe no one is too old to learn a new skill. I had a friend in Kiwanis who got his first computer at the age of 90. He was emailing and Googling before long. So don’t tell me you are too old!
  3. Look to new fields. As you investigate opportunities, see what is changing and where the jobs seem to be. Studying trends online and news will give you more clues to what is hot and what is not. But make sure you can justify the change in an interview. Just because you think you can do the job, doesn’t mean the hiring manager will feel the same way.

I firmly believe in possibilities but I believe that it is work to keep your career from extinction.


  1. Mark Harai on March 18, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    These are some great tips Julie on how to stay relevant and aware of opportunities to expand your professional career.

    Some folks have a tendency to get complacent and that can kill you in the job market these days.

    Have a wonderful weekend 🙂

    • Julie Walraven on March 18, 2011 at 3:22 pm

      Thanks, Mark, I always appreciate you stopping by. You are right about complacency, a dangerous thing. Enjoy your weekend.

  2. Christine Livingston on March 19, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    As you know, Julie, this is a subject dear to my heart.

    Reading it brought to mind a fabulous meeting I had yesterday with a guy who’d been a good “old fashioned” recruitment consultant for about 20 years before being laid off some months ago. Watching the way things were going in his industry, and noticing he had a growing love for social media, allowed him to take his career forward in a totally different direction.

    It’s about seeing the opportunities and having the courage to switch, if your instinct tells you to.

    • Julie Walraven on March 19, 2011 at 5:15 pm

      Thanks for stopping by, Christine, I miss our chats on Twitter and our blogs. I agree, that courage is critical, combined with following what we love.

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