Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Dealing With The Status Quo

Last week I pulled a few sales books off the shelf. As readers of this blog know, I believe that job searching is another form of selling (well, marketing and selling). The job seeker's objective is to eventually make a sale (of their service) to a buyer of that service (the employer).

Going back and refreshing periodically is helpful. There are lots of sales books in my bookcase, however those by Stephan Schiffman are favorites. I started reading one of his and to no surprise the material pulled me right in.

The subject at hand? The status quo. Specifically, that a sales person must first of all recognize that the competition is what the prospect is currently doing. Furthermore, they must get it that this existing state of affairs will continue unless there is a compelling reason for the prospect to make a change.

Make a change ... that's at the heart of job searching and job upgrading. Saying that change is desired or needed is one thing, getting on with it is quite another. Even though people are not happy or comfortable where they are, many are just content enough to be reluctant (resistant?) to change. So they stick with what they have going, the status quo. They have settled in.

Change itself now becomes an obstacle. The status quo is familiar, patterns develop, things are built around the same old same old. The longer this continues, the harder change becomes. Like the man that hasn't kept up on dental hygiene, who ends up with a bad toothache. He's forced to go to the doc, not to make a course correction, but rather to relieve the pain. The tooth is pulled, the pain goes away, but nothing has changed in the stauts quo. He goes right back to the same habits that led to the pain and visit in the first place.

I believe one's employment status quo and personality are intertwined. Whereas behavior may be learned, I subscribe to the notion that personality is largely innate. People end up in career and employment situations that conform to basic personality sets. This works for those that know exactly what they want or are able to find it, a situation that is enhanced when there are lots of opportunities to pick from and try out.

However, what happens in the current economic climate if you are displaced or for some other reason have had to drop out, and then find that you must re-enter the workforce? What happens when labor supply and demand is way out of whack? Or when settling in has led to thinking the status quo will go on indefinitely?


Free Agency suddenly confronts. To be sure, it was there all along (the individual is and has always been a Free Agent operating in the Marketplace) but they didn't see it. In extreme cases, this realization completely overwhelms, causing panic and life crisis. We know this. Furthermore we know that it can be especially acute for men, the traditional family breadwinner - hardly not as it once was but still, it can take generations before roles of this type fully evolve.

Shephan Schiffman's instruction that we first get a handle on the existing state of affairs, applies to so many facets of life. In this case it's good advice for those of us doing the helping as well as for those being helped.

These days the status quo in the work world is that THERE IS NO status quo. Ask someone 18-30 years old. The concept of settling in, is foreign. Not only because this is the traditional wild-oats time of life but because as an aspiration, the flame is barely flickering.

Travel well.
John Jeffrey Lundell

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