Like the Greek mythical figure Promethean, our societies and nations are chained to a rock of our own making, as evidenced by debt-laden economies, governmental systems breakdown, high and prolonged levels of unemployment, integrated and complex global economic systems, and the challenges posed by historic technological advancement. Like Promethean, we too have the potential to “break our chains,” tapping into the power of our resilient and indomitable human condition.
We currently find ourselves battling a Global epidemic of societal, political, and economic crisis. My research, conducted for a doctoral dissertation at Case Western Reserve University (Weatherhead), focused on issues surrounding underemployment, unemployment and even unemployability in America. As the “social contract” (i.e. Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security) is under enormous strain, much will be at stake as we deal with how societal, political, educational, legal, and economic institutions handle this very complicated and multi-facetted issue – posing the question,“Will America suffer a lost economic generation?”
In this pioneering research, we conducted both qualitative and quantitative research five years after the 2008 US and global economic collapse. This research helped us identify the Promethean Career Framework; this framework consists of eight factors that resulted in more favorable individual and career outcomes throughout this turbulent period.
The Promethean Framework
This research provided compelling evidence about the importance of three foundational platforms of the Promethean Framework. Platform 1 entailed both physical vibrancy (fitness) as well as intellectual and skills development; platform 2 included the ability to adapt and consistency of effort; Platform 3 comprised skills such as managing careers, relational networks (including family), personal and career risk profile, and a proactive slant on handling financial resources.
Platform 1: Physical Vibrancy/Intellectual and Skills Development
Physical vibrancy and skills development showed up as significant factors in both maintaining and attaining employment throughout this period. One placement professional noted that it is not the age as much as it is the vibrancy of the individual; going on to note “there are 50-year-olds, and then there are 50-year-olds.”
Always adding to your education and skill sets were keys to success. One individual remarking that he updated his resume each year and noted, “if they did not have significant additions to make to their training and marketable skills… this meant problems.”
Platform 2: Consistency of Effort and Ability to Adapt
The framework that individuals brought to the job and job search proved crucial. Two bedrocks of the individuals that were successful were consistency of effort and their ability to adapt. One noted, “since the 2008 global crisis, you have to be very adaptable – I am not just the marketing guy anymore – I think of myself now as an employee with distinct and evolving skill sets that are applicable across disciplines.”
Additionally, those that succeeded were constantly moving, thinking, and working hard to stay positioned proactively with their careers and their personal lives. Knowing that each day was an important opportunity to grow their networks and skills; always keeping their eye on their goals and ultimate career directions.
Platform 3: Career, Network, Risk, and Financial Management
A significant factor leading to success in this tumultuous period was actively owning and managing those parts of their lives that they could exert the most control over. Those that exhibited the most success and stability were intense about managing their careers and networks; realizing that in more convulsive period’s changes can happen rapidly and without notice.
Those that were stable throughout this period were very good at assessing and positioning themselves for risk. They understood the risks associated with job or career disruptions, and proactively moved to contain and minimize those risks or at least position to move quickly if they actually happened. It is important to note that those who succeeded in the long term were very rarely caught “flat footed” or surprised by what was coming; they usually had developed scenarios for different types of potential outcomes.
Finally, those that succeeded knew the importance of taking care of their personal finances. Making sure to have reserves available in case the worst scenario happened; knowing that the more savings they had the more time (and options) they had to find a good fit in their next job, career, or even industry.
The difference between success and failure in both career and life outcomes was significant based on the utilization of each of these three platforms. If we find ourselves dealing with additional and intensified economic uncertainty, the Promethean Career Framework should prove the difference for a sustainable future no matter what life (or the economy) delivers.
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