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Don’t Run The Risk Of Job Stagnation

Jim McLoughlin


Bad economies require every working man and woman to make decisions not often faced in life; for example: what is the better way to secure jobs in a difficult economy: (i) By constructively managing careers to get further ahead; or (ii) By defensively managing careers to maintain present jobs?


Human nature generally dictates that we take the more conservative approach to securing jobs when economies turn bad; i.e.- to hunker down defensively, do a solid job and stay out of the limelight.


However, while hunkering down may appear to be the safest course of job-securing action to take - in reality it is not because it can lead to "job stagnation" -- a circumstance that can/will stunt the growth of superintendents' careers often beyond repair.


The rationale supporting the job stagnation premise is that those who hunker down unknowingly assume the following serious career threatening risks:

  • Minimizing the "on-the-job initiative" that so freely flows in good economic times to avoid making mistakes; i.e.- a situation that will draw employer attention.

  • Out-lasting committee chairmen, and/or general managers at their jobs thereby eventually facing their replacements who generally want to employ their own superintendents regardless of the quality of job being delivered by the incumbent; and who often fail to respect the job descriptions in place.

  • Aging to the point whereby the opportunity to move up the career job-ladder begins to pass superintendents by; i.e.- losing access to the finite number of prestigious jobs that become available during a superintendent's career.

  • Maybe the worst consequence of all: simply getting bored and bringing a lack of enthusiasm for the job home to unsettle families.

Clearly, the above career risk path is one to avoid. Therefore, how should presently employed superintendents manage their careers in bad economies?

  • First and foremost, keep their job antennae out and alert to stay in touch with the vacated job market.
  • Next, be highly selective and apply only for vacant jobs at the right time career-wise that would be a clear-cut step up in a superintendent's career ladder making sure to follow the job application guidelines presented earlier in this blog series -- including being wary of the confidentiality issue.

It is important that superintendents continue to judiciously manage their careers during a down economy, or run the risks associated with career job stagnation. Careers can flourish in a bad economy, but only when careers are judiciously managed. (See next week's post on this theme.)


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