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Vanishing Jobs and Disappearing Companies

vanishing jobsIf you think today’s college students are too young to know about vanishing jobs and disappearing companies; think again.  Consider companies like Blockbuster and West Coast Videos, both former game and video rental stores.

Even my 23 year-old son remembers our Friday evening rituals of picking up pizza and a video.  Neither company exists today.

Vanishing Jobs

Both companies were replaced by new business models and technology that spurred growth of companies like Netflix and Redbox.  When Blockbuster finally closed 300 stores in the spring of 2013, they laid off 3000 employees.  This is an important trend and one that college grads today need to know about.  In some cases, it’s not the entire company that disappears.  It could be just a prominent product. For example, 21,000 jobs vanished when General Motors discontinued their production of the Pontiac.  A car, which at one time, with a gem in their fleet.

How to Stay Ahead of Disappearing Companies

How can you guard your career against this trend?  No plan is fool proof, but here are some practices you might want to consider before your job or career vanishes too.

1. Constantly scan the internal and external environment to see what is impacting your company.  Read the annual report.  Know what drives costs in your company and what drives profits.
2. Don’t just look at your company, look at other companies in your industry and look for trickle down impact. For example if auto companies are discontinuing products what are the possible ripple effects for other companies? Will auto dealers and auto insurers be impacted?  Will suppliers?
3. Pay attention to what is happening with your company’s vendors and customers.  Is demand growing or shrinking for your products and services?
4. Read national and regional reports on growing or declining occupations.
5. Learn new things. While you are in college, think about second majors and minors that could enhance your skills.  Enroll in short term certificate programs to keep your skills relevant.

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