No More “Follow The Leader”

JoanHeadDoes your job search strategy emulate that of your forefathers? Has it reached a dead end? Are you completely perplexed as to why you can’t start your career, enhance it, or get back to work all together?

Worse, are you contributing to the latest 7.3% unemployment rate, as released by the Department of Labor today?

This is a vicious and non-productive cycle going on with professionals all over our country, and it bothers me every day. As I continue my quest to provide much-needed advice to the good, hard-working middle-class American population I was struck by a term I read: “thought followers.” I wanted to better understand what it meant.

A thought follower tracks the work and progression of a thought leader – a renowned expert in his or her particular field acting as an influencer for individuals that prefer others blaze new trails for them. Thought followers abide by popular trends, waiting for their leaders to test the unchartered waters before taking the plunge themselves. Thought leaders are the risk-takers while thought followers sit back, choosing to remain comfortable in their normal routine until it becomes only natural that they make a transition.

As a creature of habit, I see almost everything through my employment lens. When introduced to the concept of though followers, I immediately made the connection that the majority of job seekers today exemplify this thought-follower mindset. In my experience, this mindset has become the greatest weakness in our unengaged workforce. The proof is in that same unimpressive unemployment rate.

We live in a world of technology, innovation and change. In order to survive, middle-class America must realize that a linear path is no longer a viable option for long-term career enhancement. Travel the new employment world by taking a series of stepping stones that each bring you closer to your ultimate career destination. That means being strategic (making sure every career move makes sense), taking risks, and becoming your own thought leader rather than relying on behaviors of the past. I never before considered the difference between thought leaders and thought followers.

Instead of blindly following the traditional career progression that has proven obsolete, ask yourselves: Am I working towards the new American dream, or away from it?

Our elected thought leaders shut down the government recently. If we continue to follow their example, we will go off the cliff with them. It’s lonely being a thought leader, especially in times when your followers need your guidance more than ever. That’s why we need to start depending on ourselves for survival. Middle-class Americans: I challenge you to own your career by building yourself as a first-choice candidate that fits in our new normal economy rather than calling yourself a victim of it.

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