Speed Means Survival for Today’s White Collar Professionals

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Are you a white collar professional worried about keeping up? Good. That’s healthy. You need to be worried. Because white collar jobs - traditional corporate roles in finance, accounting, marketing, sales and HR - are changing like never before and you need to keep your eye on the horizon in order to keep up, get ahead, and just plain survive.

A recent Wall Street Journal article noted, “As companies look to shed noncore tasks and government budgets come under strain, an expanding share of the workforce has come untethered from stable employment and its attendant benefits and job protections.”

 

White collar professionals are both beneficiaries and targets of the gig economy. So the challenge is two-fold: how to keep my high paying white collar job in an increasingly competitive environment, and, how do I become one of the successful “gigsters” riding this new wave?

At Illumeo we believe that the world of traditional white collar work is over - most people just don’t know it yet. You could be swept up in a 10% reduction in force tomorrow with no visibility, even at the highest levels of a company. Or maybe your business unit just got sold. That’s a boon to investors, but the buyer doesn’t need your role, so good luck on the job market.

So how do you make yourself so valuable to your company that they have to keep you - or as a gigster, have to have your services?

In short: Become a fast learner! Today’s business world is built on speed. And the reason these corporate professional jobs are under fire is because most people can’t learn fast enough to keep up. If your boss isn’t convinced that you can learn that new process, new software, or something in your functional area that you haven’t done before, then you are not in the long-term plan for the group. Or maybe it’s just a gig. Maybe they’ll bring someone in from outside who can work that product launch, or build that budget, or lead that project. Should that have gone to you? Will they end up replacing you? Or will your boss or executive team decide all projects should go to consultants? Why hire long term when you can bring someone in for two months and then wave goodbye?

To be “that” person, the one who can get any project done, the one who can lead any team, the one who completes tasks so quickly they fly right up the corporate ladder, you have to be so adept at learning that you are unafraid to take anything on. And then you have to actually deliver. Again and again. This simply comes down to learning. No one teaches you how to do things these days unless it’s a menial task. As a white collar professional you have to come up to speed in a flash and get productive immediately, and your boss won’t be there holding your hand. They’re busy.

If you can learn fast enough to pick up and knock out projects quickly, why would they hire that consultant? Why wouldn’t they give you the next project, and give you the next open hire for your team, and give you the next promotion? Companies are moving to a place where execs at the top call the shots and the producers on the line produce (be it cars or lines of code). In the middle will be a growing set of gigsters and a diminishing set of full-timers who are so good, so fast, that they help hold the company together in the center. It means you have to cover more ground faster than ever before. It means letting go of ‘traditional’ roles and doing whatever is needed by the company. It means being flexible with your career path.

Today’s professionals need to find that thing between a Google search (too shallow) and a conference (too expensive and too many months away) that gives you both the depth you want and the immediacy you need. And you need to aggressively own your own learning. Most companies don’t do this for you. Happily there is a crop of e-learning platforms that are rushing in to fill this need that provide immediately available and highly affordable learning, anytime and anywhere.

If you need to pick up your Photoshop game, Lynda is the place. If you need to learn html, css or c++, Udacity has you covered. But when it comes to white collar professional development, it’s Illumeo. Illumeo is the only provider of Expertise Management for corporate professionals, which enables competency assessment, gap analysis, and hundreds of courses that go beyond using tools and into how to do the fundamentals and advanced practice of hundreds of positions in corporate finance, sales, marketing and human resources.

This is about surviving and thriving using learning as your weapon, and using it at speed. Those who can move fast, learn fast, and adapt, are those who will thrive in today’s market. It’s completely within your reach.