What is a person for (anymore)?

… Maybe that’s an over-statement, but it holds some truth. In the words of one CEO, The Times article continues: “You don’t have to train machines.”
In many ways, the seismic shift we’re seeing in the jobs economy towards more highly skilled workers calls for people—especially, the  unemployed and underemployed—to clarify, and promote, how they can make a contribution that will be distinctive and relevant to an employer.

This is a challenge of personal differentiation.

Personal differentiation may include more training in one’s current trade or profession, or even training in new fields. But it also depends heavily on something closer to home: Getting a clear handle on one’s identity as the source of their value-creating potential—and then determining where these powerful capacities can be best applied, to everyone’s benefit.

Promoting who you are, not just what you can do isn’t a conventional resume item. Yet, blending identity information into one’s work history and goals can transform the impact of a resume, in ways that help you stand out from the proverbial crowd.This may be cold comfort for people who have been blinded by chronic unemployment, and who are slowly melting into the background, but it is nonetheless true.

So… Is our new jobs economy killing people in the name of productivity? Such inexcusable irony.

You don’t have to take a life to kill a soul.


Flickr photo courtesy of H. Kopp Delaney 

  • Lynn Moore

    I think what disturbs me most is that I consider myself a lifelong activist but unfortunately the unemployed and underemployed have no real representation and are bound by depression and shame.

    Consider even more auspicious news from the NY Times opt-ed article The Start-Up of You by THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN:

    “Look at the news these days from the most dynamic sector of the U.S. economy — Silicon Valley. Facebook is now valued near $100 billion, Twitter at $8 billion, Groupon at $30 billion, Zynga at $20 billion and LinkedIn at $8 billion. These are the fastest-growing Internet/social networking companies in the world, and here’s what’s scary: You could easily fit all their employees together into the 20,000 seats in Madison Square Garden, and still have room for grandma. They just don’t employ a lot of people, relative to their valuations, and while they’re all hiring today, they are largely looking for talented engineers.”

    And, according to Friedman, now we’ll need to revolutionize ourselves every quarter:

    “Today’s college grads need to be aware that the rising trend in Silicon Valley is to evaluate employees every quarter, not annually. Because the merger of globalization and the I.T. revolution means new products are being phased in and out so fast that companies cannot afford to wait until the end of the year to figure out whether a team leader is doing a good job.”


    July 15, 2011 at 1:30 pm
  • Mary Key

    Larry – great thoughts – the need to feel that one’s live is purposeful is directly tied to what you are observing. Around the world there are millions that want to feel valued and part of something larger, only to be told they aren’t needed. Excellent writing and clarity!

    November 3, 2011 at 7:55 pm
  • Neil Gluckin

    It’s a good insight, Larry, and a troubling one. Just because something (or someone) can be mechanized doesn’t mean it’s a good idea, but the “capital” economy you describe offers apparent rewards to those who eliminate the variable cost of human capital (awful term) with the reliable cost of machine capital. The soaring popularity of farmers’s markets, local food and agrotourism, to name a few, offer some hope that sooner or later, either consumers will start to demand products and services made and delivered by humans, or the rising costs of our petroleum-based economy will.

    November 3, 2011 at 7:56 pm

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