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If finches can adapt to their changing environment, so can workers at all levels, according to Nacie Carson’s The Finch Effect, a career guide that takes its title and premise from Charles Darwin’s work on evolution and his theory of “survival of the fittest.” Carson encourages readers to accept the post-recession economic environment and thrive in it rather than wait for a return to “normal” while ignoring the portents of career extinction. Applying Darwin’s theory to the professional world, Carson offers a set of strategies for taking charge of one’s own career design, self-branding, and skills development—the essential elements that propel the Fittest to the top of the work food chain.

According to Carson:

  • “The Finch Effect” suggests that people who are willing to adapt to changes in the career marketplace are the “Fittest,” and therefore most likely to succeed. The concept is based on the work of Charles Darwin, known for his theory of evolution and book On the Origin of Species. Darwin observed that finches in the Galapagos Islands adapted within only a few generations to changes in their food sources. He credited the finches’ very survival to their ability to change.
  • While it was once expected that employees would spend their entire lives working their way up the nine-to-five corporate ladder, economic forces have forced companies to turn to part-time and contract workers. Rather than wait for the traditional job market to return to “normal” the Fittest are adapting to the new paradigm. This is called “the gig mindset.”
  • Individuals should market themselves by creating an “adaptive professional brand” (APB). This is a tool that elucidates people’s skills, expertise, and the other factors that set job candidates apart from their competition.
  • The Fittest are the ones who take charge of their careers and recognize that professional power and stability comes from individuals, not the companies that employ them.
  • Even the very best, highly differentiated candidates do not get noticed without some effort. Each job seeker should create a “tagline” that encapsulates his or her brand in a single, short phrase.
  • Job seekers should create two-minute “elevator” pitches as well as 15-minute versions that answer the questions “What is your story?” and “Why you?” and adapt these messages for use on social media sites, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. People should be careful to “clean up” personal posts and photographs that may not be appropriate for the eyes of prospective hiring managers and clients.
  • People can — and should — act as entrepreneurs whether they are working for themselves or a company. This means approaching work with a spirit of ownership and taking initiative, rather than simply taking direction from others.

To download three free summaries, please visit our site.

Related book summaries in the BBS library: Disaster Proof Your Career, Career ContentmentChange Your Questions, Change Your Life

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