Career Navigation in a "New Normal" World

by SixFigureStart | April 09, 2010

Leave it to those in the consulting industry to find a large helping of cold water to pour over what little belief any of us might have that we're on the road to recovery. Summing up a new book by two partners at Boston Consulting Group—Accelerating out of the Great Recession—the folks at Consulting Magazine offer these terrifying little nuggets:

"Too few companies have taken the long-term, defensive measures necessary to survive and thrive in the wake of the Great Recession."

"[T]here will be no return to the 'old normal' as tapped-out consumers will no longer be able to be counted on to help drive the economic engine."

Of course, we should bear in mind that BCG partners have a vested interest in scaring the rest of us over the economy: when you're in the business of getting hired to help companies cope with change, fear is a pretty strong motivator.

But looking at the comments—and indeed the review as a whole—it's difficult to disagree with the overall premise. The "recovery" we've seen so far feels exceptionally fragile, and isn't predicted to bring a glut of hiring any time soon. That points to a future where, indeed, the "new normal" is higher unemployment rates, which in turn continue to depress consumer spending, keeping the whole economic cycle on a very muted spin compared to recent years.

While the subject area of the book is aimed at helping executives to ensure their companies are equipped for success despite the economic climate, the core piece of advice for them in the summary applies equally well to careerists seeking to achieve the same thing on a personal level: "[G]o on the attack […] Now is the time to be proactive."

Bottom line: companies need to try new approaches, to specialize in more areas, and to take a positive role in shaping their own futures, rather than sitting back and waiting for the ill economic winds to once again turn in their favor. Torturing that metaphor just a little longer, careerists need to do the same thing for themselves: now is the time for tacking, not drifting.

--Posted by Phil Stott, Vault.com


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