BookWatch: You may have to reapply for your job one day — here’s how to keep it

Restructuring fads come and go. However, a recent practice that has caught my eye is asking employees to “reapply” for their jobs.

The practice—which makes workers particularly uncomfortable—is rooted at least in part in the world of “post-merger integration,” often a euphemism for lots of people running around trying to root out cost and justify the transaction that just took place. The idea is that as a new entity takes form, it makes sense that prospective employees of that new entity—even if they came from one of its forbears—should apply afresh for their role.

Though it may put us on edge, there is a kernel of value in the practice: it reminds us that we, just like our organizations, aren’t guaranteed a future. Based in part on my research, here’s what professionals need to do in an era of exponential change.

Embrace impermanence by bringing a beginner’s mind. Until recently, it was perfectly reasonable to expect some degree of permanence for successful, established organizations. But in the past three years, we have seen mounting evidence that every company faces an existential threat to some extent—and with that threat comes vulnerability to employees.

As individuals, it’s difficult to overcome the inherent belief that established companies will last forever, and the idea that our jobs in those companies will exist as long as we keep on following the playbooks. And it’s almost impossible to imagine that the somewhat linear “career path” we might have planned out is essentially defunct, along with the series of positions that we imagined along the way.

Companies that identify and challenge the orthodoxy and conventional wisdom that feed into their playbooks—including static organizational charts and career paths—will be much better at counteracting the threat of disruption. In blowing up the playbooks, they will force themselves to continuously consider first principles for what they do and how they do it.

This means any worker expecting to make it over the long haul needs to shift from a mindset of permanence (job security, linear career paths, predictable outcomes) to one of impermanence. Rather than focusing inwardly on how we get to the next level on the org chart, we need to be looking outwardly to understand the nature of change around us. What’s changing in our profession? What’s changing in our industry? Are we honing the right skills and leveraging the best tools to keep pace or get ahead?

Collectively we need to nurture a culture of impermanence by recognizing we can’t possibly be experts based on past experience when we face an unpredictable and unknowable future. Instead, we need to be willing to look at business choices and strategic moves as if we are newcomers to the industry. Ironically, the one thing that best led to job security in the past—following the playbooks carefully—may now be an accelerant to obsolescence.

Take re-application as a valuable career nudge. It’s easy to feel as though a request to reapply for a position sits somewhere between annoying and insulting. Most of us who have performed well within a company naturally expect that performance is noticed, appreciated, and rewarded—at least in part by continued employment. But what if that performance is being measured against criteria reflecting capabilities which may no longer be relevant? Once upon a time in my consulting career I earned kudos for being able to design information-packed transparencies for use with overhead projectors. I’m pretty sure that doesn’t matter so much anymore.

Though it may sound a bit starry-eyed, the idea of reapplying for a job that otherwise feels secure could be a good thing: it forces us to pick up our heads and consider our relevance in a rapidly changing business world. It helps us find our blind spots and pinpoints skills that we need to build to stay competitive. It reminds us that instead of complaining about so-and-so’s hiring or promotion, we should be investing in ourselves to stay competitive.

Use your resumé as a catalyst for introspection. Whether we call it a curriculum vitae, a resumé, or a personal synopsis—and whether it’s a single piece of paper in black-and-white, a lively video, a fancy creative portfolio, or a standard template filled out online—just about everyone in business has a pithy celebration of who they are and what they have accomplished.

Pulling together our first resumé tends to be an exercise in stretching the profound importance of an early babysitting job, debating the inclusion of the grade-point average or wondering whether walking the family dog counts as community service. As time goes on and we gain more experience, the challenge shifts to becoming more concise while attempting to match personal adjectives to desired candidate traits. No matter where you are in your career, this exercise requires self-reflection. But it’s almost always retrospective and happens all too infrequently. Admittedly, I once went 12 years without dusting off my resumé.

However, as change accelerates, so too does the half-life of relevance of any person’s qualifications. Instead of occasionally keeping a journal of your past achievements when you are ready for a change, think of your resume as a living document that must evolve with the changing world around you. Revisiting your CV a few times a year will help you recognize when you’re settling back into autopilot and possibly give you some inspiration to make some changes.

As you get started, consider some predictable ponderings like: How do I compare to others for this job? What skills have I built and which ones do I need to shore up? How has what’s valued in the business world evolved since I last had to apply for a job? How can I best position myself for success in my next role? What do I really value in my work life? And, what do I want to spend my precious time doing?

Our personal development contributes to our organization’s competitive differentiation. By clinging to rigid organizational structures and roles, we make ourselves and our companies resistant to change and susceptible to disruption. By constantly evolving, we stand a much better chance of creating a future within an organization that is more adaptive to change. To get there, we just need our individual egos to get out of our way.

Geoff Tuff is a principal at Deloitte and the coauthor with Steven Goldbach of “Detonate: Why — And How — Corporations Must Blow Up Best Practices (And Bring a Beginner’s Mind) to Survive.”

Filed in: Top News Tags: 

You might like:

The Wall Street Journal: Francesco Molinari becomes first Italian to win British Open The Wall Street Journal: Francesco Molinari becomes first Italian to win British Open
The Wall Street Journal: Partisan battle reignites after release of Carter Page FISA warrants The Wall Street Journal: Partisan battle reignites after release of Carter Page FISA warrants
The government has no idea how many gig workers there are—why that’s a problem The government has no idea how many gig workers there are—why that’s a problem
God-fearing countries are among the least wealthy—with one notable exception God-fearing countries are among the least wealthy—with one notable exception
America’s 1% hasn’t controlled this much wealth since before the Great Depression America’s 1% hasn’t controlled this much wealth since before the Great Depression
Women don’t see men who drive flashy cars as husband material Women don’t see men who drive flashy cars as husband material
The New York Post: Trump dubs himself ‘your favorite president’ in tweet about Michael Cohen tape The New York Post: Trump dubs himself ‘your favorite president’ in tweet about Michael Cohen tape
The Wall Street Journal: Cease-fire in place between Israel and Hamas in Gaza Strip The Wall Street Journal: Cease-fire in place between Israel and Hamas in Gaza Strip

Leave a Reply

Submit Comment
© 2018 Stock Investors News. All rights reserved. XHTML / CSS Valid.