Privilege is a distinction that each of us can decide to enjoy or not is a HR site for both recruiters and job seekers. They offer an email newsletter that I subscribe to (its free) and the October 15th, 2008 edition made me think. The feature is: The Rise of the Privileged Worker and I think it is relevant during times of increasing unemployment and stagnant wages. People need to look in the mirror and ask how am I unique? What do I do that this company can’t afford to lose? Here are some excerpts:

Look around at the increasing rate of
unemployment, and it may seem like an odd time to be talking about
“privileged workers.” The conventional wisdom, of course, is that,
other than overpaid CEOs, there are few people today who would qualify
for such a title. And, I would respectfully suggest that exactly the
opposite is true. At this very moment, U.S. employers are starved for
certain kinds of talent, and their desperation has created a new class
of workers in this country, a class that enjoys a uniquely privileged
position in the workplace.

Who are these workers? This privileged class includes two kinds of people:

  • Those
    who have hard-to-find skills that are critical to the effective
    operation of either the modern enterprise or our modern society. These
    skills range from forensic accounting through engineering and nursing
    to java programming and veterinary medicine.

  • Those
    who are superior performers. These individuals can be counted on not
    only to sustain a high level of contribution in their own work, but
    also to encourage and often enable the same high level of output by
    their coworkers. Regardless of their profession, craft or trade, they
    bring excellence to the workplace every single day.

Privilege is a distinction that each of us can decide to enjoy or not, depending on how we manage our own careers.

of course, that wasn’t the case. Until the turn of this century, it was
our employers that determined where and how far we went in our careers.
We had no option but to scale career ladders they created and to
receive only the privileges they pegged to each rung on those ladders.
Whether it was the size of our office or our paycheck, whether it was
the quality of our training opportunities at work or how near our
parking space was to the door, we were only as privileged as our
employers said we could be.

They could get away with that kind of behavior because in the 20th Century:

  • There was much less competition in the marketplace so they were able to succeed with a lower performing workforce. and
  • There
    was much less technology and complexity in the workplace so they didn’t
    need a workforce with highly specialized skills

Today, however, neither of those situations still exists.


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