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Are You Employable, Kayode olufemi-ayoola Published in 2008

Are You Employable, Kayode olufemi-ayoola Published in 2008

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Published by: Kayode olufemi-ayoola on Aug 17, 2009
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(Published in Daily Independent Newspapers in2008)
This is a question I like to ask participants who attend my CareerDevelopment Seminars or those whoapproach me for Mock Interviews.Are you employable?
Not until several years ago, a simple
contractglued the relationship between the employer and theemployee. Employers offered loyalty; in return, the companyoffered security. Employees did what they were told, seldomquestioning corporate policies, and rarely
from jobto job. Companies more or less
employees a job forlife, issued a regular pay cheque and offered a
pension and a
golden handshake
upon retirement.Noted leadership expert, John Paul Kotter called it, “aPsychological contract” – i.e. an
contract between anindividual and the organization which specifies what eachexpects to give and receive from each other in arelationship.Much of this however has changed. Within a few short years,the old taboos against job hopping have evaporated. It hasalmost become a badge of honour to have the stamp of multiple companies on one’s resume, with many employeesbecoming
 passive job seekers
– having their eyes open fornew opportunities.I remember a couple of years ago, as a Consultant, whileattempting to market some training programmes; I walkedinto the then, NNB Bank Plc, and was accosted by a verySenior Manager, who asked if I had come to headhunt him –this is not the only time this has happened.
What this change therefore portends is the end of anyunwritten psychological contract between the employee andthe average employer. Today’s career ladder seems to havefewer rungs, less ladder climbing, an increase in lateralmovement between positions/companies; the averagepromotion usually entails a greater leap in scope andresponsibility; with employees working laterally instead of vertically. The traditional view of what constitutes a career isno longer valid. Companies are beginning to have missingrungs on their ladders as corporations become flatter andleaner. The new career currency is learning through stretchassignments and great bosses not advancement. Job security is no longer guaranteed. Many companies nowhire temporary staff in order to avoid paying the high cost of health insurance and terminal benefits. Others outsourcenon-core staff and focus more on their core competencies.Management consultant, Tom Peters, said it so well when hesaid: “Security doesn’t attach to a job title, desk space oreven a company name”. Your security has nothing to do withhow well you did on your last performance appraisal,training, raises or even a commendation.
Your security istied to the company’s overall business performance
.When the profits and market share begin to wane, thecompany may have to let you go. T 
his kind of security isgone with the wind. Allow me to introduce you to the newkind of job security which is a security which lies in your“employability”.Employability means to be so-o skilled, so-o useful; toconstantly seek personal improvement and careerdevelopment. It is now up to you, not your company or itstraining department or development plans to keep yourself employable and relevant to your industry.The driving forceof a career must come from the individual, not theorganization. You must
act as though you were anindependent contractor with an eye on your marketvalue and worth.
A job with lots of growth opportunities, mentoring,challenges and projects is what you must seek/create. Youmust develop loyalty to your Resume- building into yourresume one achievement after another.I really love what John Sculley, former Chief of AppleComputers, said in his autobiography, “ Apple computerscan’t promise you a job for life, not even for 5 or 10 years.Not even for a couple of years. What Apple can promise isthat whether you are aboard for 3 months, 6 months, 6years, or unlikely as it may be, 16 years, you will beconstantly learning, constantly challenged. At the end, youwill be demonstrably better positioned in the local or globalmarket than you would have been had you not spent thetime with us.”
“Your sense of job security lies in your employability
 This statement was corroborated also by Robert Waterman, Judith Waterman and Betsy Collard in their Harvard BusinessReview article titled, Towards a Career Resilient Workforce, inwhich they stated the opinion of some Management thinkersthat, instead of the traditional focus on employment, thefocus should now be on
. In other words, weshould forget about clinging desperately to one job, onecompany, or one career path. What matters now is havingthe competitive skills required to find work when we need it,wherever we can find it.
The job search process has thus been transformedfrom a single event in life to an on-going careerprocess
. You must therefore learn to position yourself for“long term employability”. Long term employability meansno longer thinking of yourself as a mere job description/statistic, but as a living brand,
a living package of skills
that can be transferred from one project/job to thenext, it means keeping your job and interpersonalskills up to speed through self training and personaldevelopment. It means developing and managing

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