These days, mid-level management jobs are getting fewer, as organizations streamline and continue to flatten their hierarchies. Top-level jobs are also getting fewer, simply because jobs are consolidating and people are less likely to jump these days.

I was painting my art in a mall cafe today, when a middle-aged lady greeted a Caucasian man, and after they exchanged pleasantries, their conversation unravelled. The lady is jobless since late last year, and has been sending out applications since. And although she has been asked to consider some roles, she was unhappy that those roles needed her to do these:

  • regional travel
  • do the work of several people
  • workload would prevent her to do her graduate school

Now, if I am in her position, I would grab at any reasonable job offer right away. The reasons are very, very, very simple.

The economy and employer are kings

The global economy is deep in hell, and unlikely to really recover for the foreseeable future (never mind the facade and window-dressing you may see now and then).

The job market is consolidating, which means jobs are getting fewer, and attrition and retrenchment will become the norm at companies. Whenever a person leaves, his job will be added to the remaining employees.

And remuneration, mind you, will never be that exponential or linear growth you imagine it to be ten or twenty years ago. The golden age of the “baby boomer” when remuneration will grow at double-digits or more, with fat bonuses year on year, was long gone. Wake up to the new “gig economy” where long-term jobs will get fewer, thanks to disruptors such as Uber. Remuneration will become less permanent, but based on what value an “employee” can bring to the table today. The old days when you can demand a pay above your grade, and actually get it, is over. Today, employers will demand from you what you can offer upfront, and then discern if you are worth paying, or worth keeping. If you are dissatisfied, someone else internally or out there will happily step up and replace you.

Carpe diem, people!

Conversely, I observe due to the “gig economy” paradigm, many young people are increasingly agile in their job search and outlook. They are often willing to start at the bottom, willing to try new and unknown responsibilities, willing to learn, willing to work hard. These upstarts are exerting a bottom-up pressure on middle-aged managers who are now sandwiched and pressured from the top, and often squeezed out of jobs altogether.

I am blessed in being ahead of the curve, frequently the futurist albeit unknowingly so until years later.

I was always happy to get a job, and work hard at it, often doing the roles of several people, and seldom demanding ridiculous increments until bosses determined it was time. And in turn, what I earned was not in mere dollars, but in immense field experience and knowledge that gave me the ammunition I needed to go into my own business and consulting. I am grateful to those jobs, where earnest learning and hard work beyond my pay grade put me ahead of the curve. If I were to live all over again, I would do exactly the same thing.

So, what is your choice if you are jobless? Get a job, and START work. If you are holding on to a middle management job today? Work as hard as your bosses demand, and yes, that may mean doing the roles of several people, and traveling.

The world is no longer the same, and nostalgia does not put food on the table and a roof over your heads. If you have a job, whatever the challenges, be grateful. If you don’t have a job, keep looking, be realistic, and seize every opportunity.

PS – You may be curious about the conversation between the Caucasian and the jobless lady? The Caucasian is a perfect gentleman, and from the body language and the words, an astute person (mind you, I am in HRD too) would know that he would wish the lady all the best, but he knows that the lady would be jobless for a long time.