While being out of work is no fun at all, thinking about your next job can be useful. Thinking about the challenges that drive prospective employers does make a difference in your search, even if the employer does not give you a chance.
Today’s employer du jour is Carlson Leisure Group, one of the many tentacles of the Minnetonka-based Carlson family empire, whose holdings range from Radisson hotels, to Friday’s restaurants, to a chain of travel agencies that is increasingly endangered by the diffusion of expertise made possible through the Internet and the DIY ethos it inspires. The challenge, increasingly, for specialized business like travel agencies is showing how they add value. Why would you need a travel agent if you have access to hotel information, airline reservations systems and effective on-line providers like Travelocity and Orbitz? Explaining why you are better, and getting the customers to pay for the premium, is increasingly daunting. Can you demonstrate that a vacation planned through an agency is better? Or better yet, cheaper? Would you even be willing to guarantee it?
Applied expertise is the crucial competitive advantage for businesses. It is easier than ever to find out how things work, but having the know-how to ensure that they do work is where things get sticky.