Despite improvements in many of the macroeconomic statistics, a great many individuals still struggle to find employment befitting of their skill level. Indeed, much attention has been paid to improvement in national macroeconomic statistics. For instance, the unemployment rate in May was 6.2%, the lowest its been since Sept. 2008. However, the employment-to-population ratio–a much more objective and, arguably, accurate measure of the labor market–still sits at 58.9%, well below the roughly 63% average prior to the recession.
I recently published an op-ed in The Cleveland Plain Dealer offering advice to the new college graduates; however, the advice I provide is applicable to workers of all skill and experience level. My tips for professional success boil down to this: be entrepreneurial in all aspects of your professional life. Being entrepreneurial does not mean that a person must start or run a business; being entrepreneurial is a different way of thinking and acting. I summarize below:
- Recognize that income is earned by helping others: Whether you want someone to buy your product or pay you for your labor, if it is unclear that you will somehow enhance their lives or reduce their costs, they will not pay you for the product or your time.
- Actively seek ways to add value to others’ lives: The most successful among us actively consider the needs of others and then present a plan for how they can best meet those needs.
- Productivity, not effort, is rewarded: Upon graduation, productivity is the key to advancements. Concise but effective writing saves not only your time but also the time of those who read your report, freeing everyone up to work on other projects.
- Only make promises you know you will keep: Only make promises that you know you will keep as your circumstances and incentives change.
- Be adaptable: A healthy economy involves a great deal of disruption as antiquated products and business structures are replaced with improved ones. Individuals must be able to adapt to such disruptions and be eager to learn and grow from an opportunity to work for a new employer and/or in a new industry.
Far more societal problems have been addressed and far more people have risen out of poverty through the actions of those pursuing their own self interests in the private sector than have been achieved through political redistribution policies. Political change that better enables individuals to be entrepreneurial–that is, political change toward greater economic freedom–will further enhance societal well-being. The content of chapters 4 – 6 of Madmen provide some insights as to how such political change takes place (or does not take place).