wondered who the first person to become jobless was. Can the Guinness Book of World Records help? That would really be a brand of sorts. I can see him touring the TV stations that are struggling with content and sharing a platform with a news anchor and a professor who knows all there is to know about joblessness.
On a serious note, the world has gone through revolutions over and over but one thing that has remained valuable is the brand. Initially, it was a name in terms of your family heritage. That was a brand of sorts and actually people transacted with such brands successfully.
Then came the Agrarian and Industrial revolutions. All of a sudden, big brands in manufacturing needed as many skilled people as possible. That’s when the modern job market got its inception. Quickly, it fuelled the need for education. Big brands would lurk around universities to look for the best to go work for them.
In terms of supply and demand, it is a fact that there were few qualified people in comparison to the illusionary “many job opportunities” out there. Brands were waiting for months on end to find a qualified person. The ticket those days (and sadly we still think it is today) was a qualification. An academic paper.
Other things that matter such as your integrity and character were actually secondary, I kid you not. That’s what the demand and supply curve was doing to this brand of different employers. Word quickly went around that if you wanted to make it in life, you need to have what these employers are looking for—academic qualifications.
Mark you, this was a disruption in the way life was being lived. Leaving home to go and work for brands was not on the menu at the beginning. What was there was for us to uniquely develop ourselves in order to serve humanity with our potential and our purpose. Due to the Industrial Revolution and the need for brands to employ people, that narrative was thrown out of the window.
So people went to school not to learn about their potential and how it can be exploited, but to learn how to be employable. Whether the potential was used or not wasn’t the main concern. Soon enough, the demand & supply curve was flipped. There were more “Qualified” people than there were jobs for them in all the different brands combined. This happened all over the world. It still does.
The trend in life though is not the same as it was during the industrial revolution. Whereas big brands needed employees, today we need solution providers. Of course, the need for employees in an institution is still there, but it cannot keep up with the flipped demand vs supply curve. Life today still has myriads of opportunities for value addition and yet most people are looking to be employed by brands.
As job opportunities kept shrinking, the academic papers were no longer the ticket to these jobs. Initially, the qualifications were foolproof. Nearly all brands looked out for that. With many people to choose from, brands started carrying out interviews to select the best, and of course, pay them less. It was therefore plausible for them to start looking at other aspects of the qualified person such as character and so on.
All of a sudden, the most qualified person was also the most invisible person to many brands because he was not the only qualified person there was. Proxies and word of mouth started working. Proximity to vacancies became gold, and qualifications were now being replaced by recommendations. Brands started training people on the job and quickly started to realize that the so-called qualifications are not the holy grail of good employees.
That was the birth of personal brands. Even though the advent of transacting with personal brands has not hit a high, its momentum is picking up and it is becoming unstoppable. The so-called “Gig Economy” is being birthed with early estimates telling us that 40% of work in America will go to the Gig Economy by 2021.
In 2020, Corona Virus locked down economies of the world. People lost jobs and a great percentage of those that worked did it from home. That begs the question: In the view of all these changes, what is the place of your academic qualification?
Just before 2019 rolled in, there was an article telling us that big brands such as Google, IBM, Apple, Amazon and others are no longer making a university degree a requirement to getting employed. What do you think is replacing those academic papers? You guessed it. It is our personal brands.
This has always been so from the beginning. We are all different. We are all unique. Each of us has something special that they can do. Each of us has a personal brand. And yet we spend 20 years of our lives squashing those brands so that we can become employable. We, as a collective society have now been caught. There is no more hiding, we have to deploy our personal brands.
Woe to you if all you are doing is preparing your CV, or pursuing an education with the same mentality that we had—ignoring our personal brands. Our CVs will from now henceforth be only a small portion of our personal brands, the requirement for engagement in the modern job market.
If we have learnt to build our personal brands so great and mighty, we will soon realize that formal academic qualifications are no longer a requirement, not even an advantage, for the world today is looking for functionality and solutions, not just theoretical intelligence!