How to navigate and succeed in the era of defensive employment

We are in a time when most people have realized that they have to take on a lot more to have a successful career. But it can be tough to navigate and know what you need to do to be successful. In this episode, we will look at what has caused this new era of defensive employment, what it will mean for you and your leadership style, and what you need to do to succeed.

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In episode 126, we talked about the state of the job market and introduced the concept of defensive employment. That got a big reaction and caused a lot of questions about what it will mean for everyone as we go through this new reality. It’s a good question, and this is still a developing trend but…

In this episode, we will define what the era of defensive employment means, what it is going to mean for you, and your leadership style.

The era of defensive employment

I think the headline for this job market is we are in the era of Defensive employment – Tinglin

As we talked about, there are a lot of negative factors in the market right now
• Layoffs – more every day
• Re-orgs – some people have had 6 or 8 re-org in the past year
• Remote vs. hybrid vs. in person
• Contraction of design –
• Bad hiring practices and etiquette –

All of this has taken a toll, and it has changed the way people think about employment.
• Gig economy now applies everywhere
• People know they are free agents and have to look out for themselves because companies won’t take care of them

Let’s clarify my stance on recruiters

I don’t know when it happened, and it has probably always been there, but lately, we seem to have lost our professionalism, respect, and humanity at a scale that I have never seen before.

Let me be clear on something in this as some people have tried to put a different narrative on my posts around this – I don’t hate recruiters or people in HR, and this doesn’t apply to everyone as I have crossed paths with some truly exceptional recruiters over the past few months who could get me to work anywhere they are.

But it does apply to WAY too many people who run hiring processes, as I hear the same stories over and over again. And I see the real mental health damage that is done by treating people like a thing rather than a person.

I don’t think it is too much to ask that when a company has shown interest in me, reached out to me, asked for hours to interview me, asked for my time to put together case studies, gotten my hopes up, and more that they can take even 30 to show me some basic humanity, respect, professionalism, or empathy.

Then multiply that process over days, weeks, and months of the same thing over and over again until you doubt every skill and career decision.

I don’t think that asking for that is disrespecting them, but asking them to respect us because we are fighting for our families, our livelihood, and our future.

What this means for you

So as we face this new reality, the understandable question is – what does this mean for you?

Join a team differently
• negotiate salary
• look at the terms of your employment
• understand severance terms
• do real research beyond Glassdoor – Blind, references, etc.

Be more aware of your company, and its signals
• financial performance
• listen to the quarterly earnings calls
• leadership turnover

Make sure that you have two-way goals so your career is growing
• Many sure that you are clear on what you want out of your career
• That you have goals that you can hold your boss or company to so you are sure you are getting the most of your time at that company

Keep a more activated brand and network
• Dan Mall – people with activated networks will dominate
• Applying for jobs doesn’t work
• You have to network
• You have to know what makes you unique to build your brand and your value

Keep a safety net
• As we saw this week with Twitter, Stripe, Lyft, and so many others, things can change quickly
• You will be punished and laid off for the decision of executives who stay employed or have huge golden parachutes to protect them
• In the Unites States your employer does not have to give you severance. You should be sure you know the laws in your country and/or state
• This means you need to look at keeping a bit of a safety net, or keep your credit card bills low, or the things that I know aren’t fun but they when you need them – they can save you.

Care for your mental health
• Have a support system
• Have your board of directors – Sina

Leave a team differently
• Know that your reputation matters
• Its a small industry, and people talk
• I would expect companies to also start to wise up. They already use social media to check on you, and the more important the role, the more they will ask around
• For me it says so much when I see how people treat me when they quit or when there are hard times. Those moments when you can’t do anything for someone or when they can’t get something from you are so telling.

What this means for your leadership style

You have to create a safe space
• You can not depend on your company to create a culture or purpose that will keep your team together
• It means you have to create more of a sense of identity for them
• Be the safe space in the center of the hurricane

Think about your team like a sports franchise
• People are going to come and go
• Think about what happens when you lose your star quarterback
• Always have talent in development
• And when people leave, be sure you are also paying attention and supporting those who stay

Outreach is the new recruiting
• People are applying for jobs all the time, and as we discussed back in episode 120, it doesn’t work
• Your recruiting process may be screening out the talent you are desperately looking for
• This means you need to take a more hands-on approach to find the talent you need
• You need to reach out to talent when you see it
• But you also need to be come and communicate that they can reach out to you
• Consider mentoring or teaching to give back but also to find emerging talent

Final thought

Think about how you can go from the era of defensive employment, to a time when you are on the offense and able to get what you want from your job.

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