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January 9, 2023

The Drucker Difference: Career Opportunities in Unexpected Places

David Specht Headshot Graphic for The Drucker Difference

Knowledge workers who find themselves out of a job and wondering where to turn could be looking in the wrong direction. As Peter Drucker said, “The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence; it is to act with yesterday’s logic.”

Your next career might not be with the large, publicly traded tech companies of the world that are beholden to quarterly earnings reports—the kinds that recently laid off workers by the thousands. Those who are looking for stability and opportunity should consider multi-generational family businesses, which have a longer time horizon and different priorities. Family-owned businesses are scooping up talent because they can move quickly when they find the person they want, or when that person finds them.

Some of the best job opportunities are never posted publicly. Now is a great time to target a family-owned business that is doing the kind of work that you believe in. Pursue them rather than wait for them to post an opening. Proactively reaching out to share your interest in them and offering ways that you can bring unique value to their organization will almost certainly capture their attention. Family businesses often have fewer layers of bureaucracy when it comes to talent acquisition and pursuing an opportunistic hire. You might be able to talk with the owner directly. (Also, note that family business and small are not synonymous. Some of the most dynamic larger companies are family owned.)

Drucker also said, “The only skill that will be important in the 21st century is the skill of learning new skills. Everything else will become obsolete over time.” For many, figuring out how to find a job—a different career, perhaps—in times like these is a new skill that must be developed. Employment search engines and faceless job boards won’t yield the opportunities that family businesses might provide.

First, identify four or five businesses that are family-owned, express values you hold, and are doing work you are interested in. Connect with them and share your passions and interests. If you don’t know where to begin looking, start with a simple online search using the kinds of keywords that point you in the right direction. At the risk of stating the obvious, I suggest you start with family business and add the fields that appeal to you (distinct from your skill sets), the cities/regions where you might want to work, and the values you hold. Remember, you are not looking for a job, you are looking for a business.

Based on my experience as director of the Drucker School Global Family Business Institute, I know that family businesses tend to be community-oriented, loyal, nimble, and—contrary to media stereotypes—innovative. They are appealing on many personal and social levels.

So, what are you waiting for?

David Specht is the director of the Drucker School Global Family Business Institute. He is also the author of The Family Business Whisperer.

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