I’ve been writing a lot lately about the changing jobs market around the state of Indiana. As a bankruptcy lawyer in Indiana for more than twenty years, I see a job market today that is very different from how things were when I first went into practice. Nowadays, as I counsel with my bankruptcy clients, it is crucial for them, as they begin the process of rebuilding their financial lives, to be flexible. That means many will need to be trained for the new types of jobs – in technology and distribution and life science more than manufacturing – that our employers will have to offer. My main bankruptcy law office is in Indianapolis, but I have offices in Anderson, Bloomington, and Columbus, and I always stay alert for developments in the economy. One of the ways in which I stay current is reading – newspapers, magazines, books, and other people’s blogs. I need to arm myself with information in order to provide up-to-date, meaningful advice to my Indiana bankruptcy clients. Being a “news worm” is a way to do that, along with talking to lots of people and listening carefully to what they have to say.
Since the job market is a topic never far from my mind, I was fascinated to find an article in Esquire Magazine, called “You’d Make A Good President”. Apparently, in Great Britain, there was a nationwide appeal in the press for “tall people with athletic potential”. The purpose of the ads was to recruit Olympic athletes for the 2012 London games. The Esquire reporter comments that what fascinated him about this appeal was that it “eradicated self-selection from the process of achievement”. In other words, the project of recruiting athletes through a general ad operated from the belief that the average tall person might not realize he was perfectly designed to be an athlete! The same logic might apply to jobs and careers in general, the author points out – most people don’t know what they might be good at! “People select careers that seem interesting or lucrative, but they enjoy only jobs for which they have an aptitude.” So, asks writer Chuck Klosterman in Esquire, what if instead of having people attempt to select and pursue careers, employers analyzed the nature of jobs, figured out which qualities were most central to success at those jobs, then recruited people who had those qualities?
“Neat!” was the word that came to my mind when considering Klosterman’s job recruitment plan. On a more serious note that relates to my work, I realized that many of my bankruptcy clients had actually chosen work for which they were personally well-suited. Despite this fact, many clients became victims of changes in the economy that made their jobs obsolete or at least unsustainable. In a way, these clients are being forced to re-evaluate their suitability for new careers they had never before considered. Very much like the bankruptcy process itself, the changing economy offers people a fresh start. Maybe it isn’t exactly the sort of fresh start a person would have chosen. But, hey, this is the way things are right now, and we all need to keep facing forward….