Are you an uncomfortable (or perhaps an unwilling) resident of Free Agent Nation?
Nearly two dozen of my peers were laid off from Bank of America’s credit-card unit back in early 2009. They were great at their jobs, achieving or exceeding on their goals in the midst of a major beatdown for the industry. Eighteen months later, more than half either haven’t found jobs or have taken positions at lower pay (my wife calls this decision “less that you were making but more than you are making.”) Interviews for the rest are few and far between, despite submitting dozens of resumes. I know someone who responded to a job board for a CEO job within two hours of it being posted and was told 200 qualified people had beaten him to the punch.
This isn’t a whine. This is why we created Consultant Launch Pad. More than 48% of the nation’s unemployed have been out of work for six months or more, making them part of a group known as the ”long-term unemployed,” according to an Associated Press story early this month. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently published a report looking at the data in even more detail, noting that not only did the long-term unemployment rate for all persons increase from 0.8% in 2007 to a high of 2.9% in 2009, prime-age and older workers had a somewhat larger increase on a percentage basis. And lest we forget, Congress seems committed to eliminating jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed. The projections are that more than 3 million people will have lost benefits by the end of July.
If all that’s not bad enough, along comes a Charlotte Observer article last week that says an increasing number of recruiters and employers are requiring applicants to have a job if they want to be considered for their jobs. Beyond the fact that one has to wonder how many employed people are willing to risk leaving the safety of their current situation to become the “low man” on someone else’s totem pole, this adds additional angst to older workers who may also be experiencing a subtle form of age discrimination in a tight job market. Parenthetically, it also seems pretty short-sighted since it’s pretty easy to see who the more motivated applicant is going to be.
There is a ray of hope in the Observer story. Recruiters agree that evidence of consulting or project work can offset their clients’ aversion to the unemployed. And that’s what we’re trying to do through this site: Help you create short-term revenue for yourself when there are no jobs and see if there’s a way to turn that short-term revenue into a long-term job or career change.
So we’re not focusing solely on the needs of people who have decided they don’t want to return to corporate America, people that author Dan Pink described a few years ago as Free Agent Nation. We’re also focusing on the unwilling (or perhaps uncomfortable) residents of Free Agent Nation, people who don’t have a choice but need to feed their families and are increasingly realizing they may need to build a portfolio career of a variety of jobs in different industries or functions In the weeks to come, we’re going to talk a lot more about how to find clients and projects and how to create short-term income while building a great reputation in the marketplace that will enable you to decide for yourself whether this is your best option. For those who already know it is, we’ll offer advice on formalizing your business structure and being more successful.
We’re all in this together. Let us know how we can help. And consider following us on Twitter (@consultantlaunc) or joining our Consultant Launch Pad group on LinkedIn and join the discussion wherever it’s most convenient for you.