Career crash course

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

The market crash is going to mean a new era of banking, but it's also introducing a few new ideas about how to manage your career. This isn't the first sector to experience catastrophe, but it might be the wealthiest one. We can all learn a little about managing our careers from watching what happens with the super-rich.

Use the downturn to figure out where you stand.

Wall Street ticks with rainmakers and math geniuses. Usually these guys (almost always guys) are tough to come by. Everyone wants them, everyone knows where they are and where they're going, and they're so powerful they usually come and go in teams. So you can probably guess that recruiting this talent is extremely difficult.

There's a saying on the trading floor that up or down doesn't matter. As long as there is volatility, you can make money. Turns out, this is true of recruiting, too.

So if your sector is tanking, test your star power. There'll be a feeding frenzy for top talent, and you should find out where you stand by calling a headhunter. If they'll work with you, you're probably at the top of your game.

If you're stuck, become a stay-at-home parent.

Let's be honest. The hedge-fund guys who are out of work aren't going to be a big drag on our welfare system. These guys have been bringing home million-dollar checks for years, so there's likely to be food on the table and money in the bank for back-to-school clothes.

And guess who's taking the kids back to school? The dads. All those finance guys who just last month were expensing trips to strip clubs with their clients are now taking kids to preschool and then hanging out at Starbucks talking about how great it is to be a stay-at-home dad. While the markets adjust, of course.

Of course, there are people who were born to stay home with kids. Not everyone uses it as an escape route. But everyone can, if need be.

Free yourself from the delusion that safe paths are possible.

Here is me linking to the 10 billion times I've written about how there is no more corporate ladder. That you should stop thinking someone will take care of you, tell you where to go next and give you a gold watch when you finally retire at 65.

The last bastion of the fast track to safe money and job security used to be finance. And now that one's gone, too. There are officially no more safe paths to money.

This is a stark, big-bang broadcast that the end of the safe career is here. And that's great. Because the quest for a safe, beaten path that will work for your own life is an empty quest. We are in a new era of work, and you get to make your own path. It's exciting. Even in a down market.