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VISTA Article [Resource Review] [5/1/12]
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Resource Review: Knowledge Nomads and the Nervously Employed: Workplace Change & Courageous Career Choices

by Seth Igarta (M.Ed.), career counselor and educator at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

For career development specialists, organizational change agents, educational leaders, and students and adults in career transition, Rich Feller and Judy Whichard’s book Knowledge Nomads and the Nervously Employed, in print since 2005, continues to prove itself a poignant, invaluable resource.  In Knowledge Nomads and the Nervously Employed we are introduced to a new breed of workers termed “knowledge nomads”, or“workers possessing the skills and traits to continually innovate regardless of geographic location or time zone,” as well as the “nervously employed,the majority of employees hired to job descriptions that are no longer clear or definitive due to changing economic realities.”While knowledge nomads are defined asmobile and agileknowledge workers,who are self-employed owners, the nervously employed are characterized as temps who are frustrated by change and yearn for stability.  Throughout the book the authors develop the advantages and challenges faced by these two groups as they navigate the current and future shifting economic conditions and cultural milieu.

The authors of this career development gem joined together to craft an inspiring book that luminouslycovers far reaching topics that I believe can be divided into three segments.  The first sectionaddresses career development, globalization, technology, andcontemporary workplace trends.  The second sectionmoves into a discussion on occupational “STAR” behaviors,education,essentialworkplace competencies and skills, andthe utilization ofagility, strengths, and intuition.  And, the final sectionpulls it all together within thelens of integratingsignificance, meaning andpurpose which fostercourageous career decision making and planning thatnurture passion and promote a greater good.This is no small feat, let alone to be done in an absorbing and concise 136 pages, which is chalk full of data, charts, and bulleted lists of apt research andliterature.

A highlight of this book is the closing chapter titled “Courageous Choices;”it alone is worth reading.  It synthesizes the information covered and “fans the fires of individual strength and growth;” further imploringthe exercise of courageous choice making.  It calls for the kind of choice making that “confronts our fears, connects our heart with our actions, and does what must be done despite what we might judge to be negative consequences.”  Moreover, it is a pleafor meaningful growth, global citizenry, and the formation of a new social contract that holds to the ideathat people matter most in our tumultuous world.  The book closes with a list of 10 probing questions, which can be used to facilitate courageous decision making and actions. If you believe, “as career development professionals, empowering others is our greatest contribution,” you will benefit from reading this book.Not only do I strongly recommend this book to my MPACE colleagues in the field of career development, but I also recommend this book to all individuals who are striving to engage the sweeping global changes we are facing, in efforts to help themselves and others forge more meaningful careers and fulfilling lives.  This book is a beacon of hope and a guide for making choices that can result in successful careers and rich lives.

Feller, R. and Whichard, J. (2005). Knowledge Nomads and the Nervously Employed: Workplace Change & Courageous Career Choices. 152 pages. CAPS Press. $13.95.

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