What I learned from unemployed knights

On May 3, 1382, at the Battle of Brevershoutsveld, warfare changed.  Up to this point, the chivalric knight stood above all others on the battlefield. Aristocratic warrior knights were members of a very exclusive social class. They were the Navy S.E.A.L.S. of their time.  They required  intense and expensive training, which was only offered to a select few, as well as expensive armor. At the dawn of the 14th century, knights were the topmost warriors in the world, they were invincible against other soldiers and they thought that they were destined to remain so forever.

At the Battle of Brevershoutsveld, canons were used by the army from Ghent, an army that was out numbered 5-to-1 by the army from Bruges. Gunpowder fueled these new WMDs and the knights, who ruled the battlefield for centuries, faded into history in just a few short years.

I’ve heard back from a few of you who read the article I emailed out last week Dead Suit Walking. Some of you have responded the way I did, “Thank goodness! I am not the only one! This is much bigger than me or my poor choices.”

Others of you have responded with grave concerns. “Now what!?!?! Are we just sunk?”

The knights of the 14th century did not embrace change either. They were the nobles. They could not tolerate the thought that unskilled peasants, with a minimum of training, were sending them running “like cowards and villains.”

In traditional medieval warfare, the only worthy opponent on the battlefield was another knight. Knights were mostly captured and ransomed, rather than killed outright. With the indiscriminate killing power of gunpowder, men who lacked respect of the knightly class, were decimating their ranks.

It is pretty easy for us to look back on this situation and give sound advice. “Get over it, knights! The rules have changed. Learn the new rules and get back into the battle.”

So, the same thing goes for us. The game has changed. If what we are doing has not landed us a job within 6 months, then we need to consider something different. That should go without saying….but it took me well over a year before I gave up the “safe route” and started looking at alternatives to  “working for an established corporation with a job title consistent with my years of experience.”

For those of us who have been around the block, the job market is pretty tough. Admittedly, I am starting to see some older workers landing traditional jobs at traditional companies but, those traditional jobs are still scarce. I had to stop thinking that I would be the exception. I had to start arming myself to fight the war the way it is being won today.

I started looking at smaller companies that tend to like the experience of an older worker. I’ve considered start-ups that will not be able to pay much and will require long hours, but it gets me back into the game. Eventually, baby boomers will start to retire in significant numbers and jobs will loosen up. I need to survive until then and taking a lower paying job in my field, where I will learn some things, is a pretty good plan. I’ve thrown open the “will relocate anywhere” door. I’ve had to stop thinking that I’d paid my dues and that I shouldn’t have to do that (whatever “that” might be: relo, travel, unglamorous industry, work trade shows, take a lower job title, etc). I’ve had to make a lot of adjustments, which have made me better able to compete in a tougher environment.

For me, the answer was to start my own company. I am finding that there are a lot of possibilities out there, but they are not going to come to you any more than posting your resume on Monster is going to get you a job. You have to hunt for them. You have to talk to people and do research. You have to swallow your pride and gird up your courage.

If this Great Recession has not made you a tougher, more capable competitor, then you have missed a great opportunity. The good and bad news is, your opportunity is not over yet. We are in a slow recovery. Things are not going to be back to normal any time soon.

So, “Get over it, knights! The rules have changed. Learn the new rules and get back into the battle.”

James Snider
Business Development Director

About jamessnider

James Snider is the Vice President of Business Development for Engstrom Trading, LLC. Engstrom imports products from Scandinavian countries and builds a market for them in the USA and Canada. http://TFXNonStickUSA.com View all posts by jamessnider

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