WorkWise: Throw your skills to the wind

culp@workwise.netDecember 2, 2012 

(Jill Arldt) David Modaff, president of Friday Staffing Services Inc. in Asheville, N.C., speaks with recruiter Amy Walker about trends they’ve observed among candidates.

Many people today are trading traditional employment for entrepreneurism, but it isn’t for everyone. Light industrial workers, perhaps because of risk-aversion or a simple need for expensive equipment and facilities, run counter.

Asheville, N.C.’s David Modaff counts more than 700 temporaries, temp-to-hire and permanent people out on assignment through Friday Staffing Services Inc., where he’s president.

“I’m not seeing this trend,” he says. He adds that as a member of TempNet, he’s not once heard a person bring up a loss of temp candidates to entrepreneurism. Mary Mycka, TempNet’s executive director, characterizes its 88 small-business staffing company members as covering light industrial, hospitality and, increasingly, health care.

Rafe Gomez, surveying a group of 200 middle-manager to senior-executive clients over the last three years, estimates that about 50 percent of their career disruptions led to entrepreneurism. Personality, age and financial situation have factored greatly into their decision, according to the owner of New York, N.Y.’s The Rehirement Coach.

“If they need job benefits,” he says, “they’re not in a position to start their own business. If they have savings and maybe a spouse working, it’s more achievable. Some pursue a dream through a side business or do on their own what they were doing for someone else.”


You might have been trying everything to redirect your career and, in despair, wondered why nothing has materialized.

Have you been searching hard, not noticing what’s happening around you? Too much control could be holding you back. You can’t control timing, but you can make certain you’re in the best spot to make your number come up and capitalize on it.

The employment trajectory of Neven Gibbs, now an independent writer, illustrates one way of corralling the market. Except for the detective novel he’s writing, he considers himself “otherwise-retired.” His list of occupations after 22 years in the Army – active, inactive and National Guard – would make you wonder if he earned a living. (As he points out, he’s able to be retired.)

Working in transportation in the Army, he threw himself into the experience of driving a truck. “I saw all of Germany, parts of Holland and Denmark making deliveries,” he recalls. “It was great fun, meeting a lot of good people.” His other occupations, many involving short-term work, include farrier and electrical worker.

He bumped into more people later in Las Vegas as an entertainer, where he watched and learned about people. “If you know how people react,” he remarks, “you have an advantage in looking for new work, because you can usually figure out in the first five minutes if you’re going to get hired. That concentrated ability along with a sense of humor are two of the most important things in getting through life.”

Rather than sitting around, he always kept himself busy. When he didn’t have work, he’d ask himself, “How will I get past that wall and get more work? How can I use my talents, skills and knowledge to go through it, around it, over it or under it? Should I use what I already know in a new field?” At 50 he returned to school to become a mental health counselor and did, until his employer could get PhDs to do the same work for the same compensation.

The spirit with which Gibbs engaged in working indicates that restraint may not always be a good thing. Sometimes you have to throw your skills to the wind. After you do, check your garden to see what’s growing. You might be surprised.

Dr. Mildred L. Culp welcomes your questions at © 2012 Passage Media.

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