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Today's Executive -- Tomorrow's Walmart Greeter

 Ok, perhaps my view into the future is a little harsh, but it got your attention.  And there is definitely a grain of truth in it.  This post is a continuation of my dialogue on the challenges that executives face.  The last three posts generated numerous personal emails from executives seeking new positions, as well as from recruiters, HR leaders and career strategists.

 What is fascinating, and at the same time unfortunate, is that the overwhelming number of executives in the market still “don’t get it.”  I am not certain why, but what has been true for decades is that mature executives are slow to adapt to changes and therefore are often perceived as out-of-date and out-of-touch.  Today’s warp speed changes make adaptation even more critical. Or perhaps they just don’t understand the new job search paradigm (or the emerging new business paradigms).  I will provide a quick overview on both concepts in this post as they are so relevant and connected.  The shifts in one impacts the shifts in the other.  You must understand both to succeed.

Let’s take a look at the evolution of the business development paradigm.  Obviously there are exceptions to this, but the trend is profound.

The Business Development Paradigm Shift

The 1990’s Decade:  Classic corporate “push” marketing strategy.  Build peak performance teams, strive for product differentiation, and engage in intense competition against many competitors.  Companies were independent entities.  Very little horizontal or vertical integration.

The 2000 Decade:  The era of strategic partnerships and alliances.  Mergers, acquisitions, reorganizations, consolidations, and restructuring were (are) the order of the day.  Companies pursued horizontal and vertical integration.  Competitor’s formed alliances to pursue market share.  Smaller number of larger competitors.  Differentiation through specialization in numerous niche markets with a broader spectrum of products rather than just different product features and benefits.

 The 2010 Decade:  Virtually all visionaries see the next decade characterized by “organic growth.”  The warp speed changes in the internet and web based technologies creates a whole new “marketing channel” that is redefining how companies do business.  It is classic “pull” marketing strategy as opposed to the “push” strategies of the 90’s.  It is the playground for millenials and the black hole for old line traditional business leaders.

The Career Paradigm Shift

The 1990’s Decade:  Driving your career followed a very traditional path.  Work hard and grow within your company.  Tenure at one company averaged between 10 and 12 years.  If you wanted to move to a new company for advancement, you worked the “good ole boy” network and one of your friends could probably get you connected.  Or you were sought out by recruiters or you contacted a recruiter and they had plenty of jobs.  Recruiters were gods…and a little bit arrogant as well.  Correction:  A lot arrogant.

The 2000 Decade:  Sales of personal computers skyrocketing across the nation.  Internet career websites like The Ladders, Career Builder and Monster springing up every where.  Search engines like Alta Vista (remember them), Yahoo and others giving people access to information and people like never before.  Then along comes Google and it gets even bigger.  Companies are beginning to back off use of recruiters because they can find people on their own.  Toward the end of this decade, social and business networking sites were exploding across the internet.  And it is not just Linkedin and Facebook, but many other niche sites as well.  In 2008 the recession hits and businesses plummet.  While recruiters still have a role, their ranks have been decimated…..and their egos have taken a hit as well.   Corporations now search for talent using advanced internet searches.  Average tenure at the end of the decade for executives is 18 to 24 months.  Compare that to the 90’s and really think about it.  Think long and hard about it.  If you don’t understand what is happening, and don’t adapt, you are in big trouble.  Welcome to Walmart, here is your cart.

The 2010 Decade:  Organic growth will define the growth of corporations and the growth of individuals.  You should never think of yourself as an employee again.  YOU are an independent business.  You must market yourself as a business—always advertising and positioning yourself for opportunities.  When you work for a company, even though you are on the payroll, your tenure is probably going to be very short.  Tenure will continue in the 18 to 24 month range…and that is on the high side.  You MUST grow yourself organically.  (See my previous post on how to do this).  Recruiters will still play a role, but the hay day of the 90’s is gone.  You must build a huge internet presence so that YOU will be the person that turns up in an organic search.

 The reaction to my previous posts covered every emotion:  anger and disbelief as well as “thank you for telling it like it is.”  I would like to convey two stories from the responses I received.  They are so revealing.  One is of a top senior level executive and the other is the EVP of one of the largest recruiters in the world.

 The Senior Level Executive:  I actually had a phone conversation with this individual.  Great guy.  Sharp executive.  Earned his way to the top.  He is now looking for a new challenge.  He actually has signed up for the Leadership Track service I provide.  We start working with him next week.  I also asked him what he thought about my posts, about building an authority blog, and about driving his organic growth.  His comment was “Contrived.”  I believe he thought I was exaggerating and manufacturing a case for something that really didn’t exist or at least not that relevant.  Unfortunately, he is the classic example of an executive who “doesn’t get it.”  Now he has been very engaged in his most recent business, so it is understandable that these changes are not readily apparent to him…as well as to many others.  But it is not contrived.  It is real.  It is my hope that down the road I can help him to adapt to the new paradigm.  BTW, he knows I am making these comments and they were done so with his OK.  I look forward to working with him as a client.

 Joe Christman, Executive Vice President of DHR International, fifth largest recruiter in the world:  Joe also told me I can tell this story to all of you.  Joe sent me an in-mail (that’s correct…an in-mail) through Linkedin:  Here is the exact copy of his in-mail and his reaction to my post:

Joe Christman has indicated you are a person they've done business with at DHR International:

I read your blog. Amazing and true. We should do a call to compare notes on this wave and how change is happening.
I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.

- Joe

Joe gets it.  Joe’s clients include our nation’s most prestigious corporations and he communicates with senior executives on a daily basis.  He is on top of hiring practices.  Joe and I had that conversation he suggested in his in-mail.  Net result:  DHR International and Corporate Warriors have formed a strategic alliance—which will be of benefit to his clients and to my clients.  The icing on the cake—Joe asked us to develop a Leadership Authority Blog (example) for him.  It will be of direct benefit to DHR and to Joe’s professional growth as well—reflecting the shifts in the business and career paradigms.

The Solution:  The message to all of you is simple:  Recognize the profound changes that are occurring.  Learn and implement the organic technologies.  Adapt to the new paradigms so that you can be a master of your own destiny instead of a greeter at Walmart.

I would love to have your comments below as part of this post, or drop me an email if you need to connect with me confidentially.  My email is don@corporatewarriors.com

Have an awesome week everyone.

 

 

 

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Reader Comments (2)

Even if you are not engaged in an executive level job search, you should follow the prescription for professional exposure that you need to project on the internet. Your personal identity can be expanded to the point that you are seen as having higher value in your current job. Can you say “pay raise” or “promotion?” If they do not promote you, there will be plenty of offers.

October 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJoe Christman

The part where you say "It is the playground for millennial and the black hole for old line traditional business leaders" hold special significance to me partly because I am a millennial and partly because I am one who works in the careers industry.

When you analyze the adoption curves for new technologies, almost without exceptions it is the people in my age group who comprise the first wave of adopters.

I take pride in knowing about the next big thing before it becomes the next big thing. I keep a tally of the number of people I (help) convert to an iphone. I jockey for prominence on social websites. It gratifies me at a visceral level to be recognized as a connector and instrument of change in this capacity. This little phenomenon should not be overlooked by our older peers.

The internet is a job killer for those folks in lines of work that depend on information asymmetry to create value. On the other side of the coin it has created a whole new demand for knowledge workers that can help others navigate it's complexity.

Now that the internet has made the transition from being a "place where some people go" to something that permeates nearly every aspect of all of our lives it only makes sense that having people in your court who understand it is one way you can seize competitive advantage in your line of work.

October 8, 2009 | Registered CommenterDon Straits

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