Career management is not just a nicety—it’s a necessity
“I never saw it coming.” That’s what many executives and managers say after they’ve lost their job. “How did it happen?”—“Well one day they called me into the front office and told me I didn’t want to work there anymore.” And now they’re just another statistic. One of the current 15.1 million people in the United States who are unemployed.
Just another casualty in the job market
Losing a job is incredibly stressful: you have to spend your savings to pay for your living expenses, your self-esteem takes one on the chin, and many people feel depressed and powerless to take control of their lives…, making it even harder to concentrate, to be on your game, and to find the job that’s perfect for you.
It’s a wonder then, why don’t more people take proactive steps to safeguard themselves from losing their job in the first place? Many managers and executives simply don’t understand the importance of a local network of professional contacts. They think they are too busy to acquire new skills, or to attend workshops by local professional associations.
They didn’t have the time, they didn’t take the time, they felt guilty when they did take the time, and now they’re right-sized, downsized or restructured out of their organization. And without a network of professional contacts, they have to start from square one building their reputation.
Start thinking of your career growth and development like a product manager. You are the product. What are you going to do to enhance yourself so that you are “in-demand?”
Whether you are between jobs, or feeling secure in your current position, managing your career growth and development like a product manager is going to be like an insurance policy against job loss, and to catapult yourself to the next level of your profession.
Here are some simple strategies to help you stay ahead of the curve:
1. Build your personal brand
“It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you…, and more importantly, and what they think about you.”
Creating and maintaining a personal brand, and working continually to promote it, are vital to your career growth.
What makes you unique? What makes you stand out? How do you position yourself as the “go-to expert” in your field? Is this reflected in your resume, your business cards, your online profiles?
Wherever you are professionally, think big and make yourself visible. Make sure to build your profile internally and externally by highlighting your skills in presentations or workshops, writing for publications, and volunteering for committees or panel discussions at a trade conference.
Start small and build from there.
Make sure your message is consistent. Remember that everything you do or choose not to do contributes to your personal brand, from the way you speak to someone on the phone, to the way you conduct yourself at meetings, or how you compose your emails.
And don’t forget that the way you do things is often as important as what you do. Do you speak concisely? Do you command attention? Do you look the part?
2. Acquire relevant new knowledge and skills
Life-long learning is essential to growth and empowerment.
To stay relevant, professional development is, or should be, an essential component of your career growth and plan: “Professional networking events, trade association meetings and professional development seminars, updates and briefings are not niceties, they are career necessities”.
Start attending regularly. Is there a class at a community college that can help you strengthen your skills? Enroll in the class. To remain proficient in your professional, improve or strengthen your work performance you constantly need new skills and knowledge – now and in the future.
3. Build your network and expand your horizons
Networking is not only for those actively seeking employment.
You can use networking to meet new customers and prospects, to conduct market research and gather market intelligence, and discover the skills that will be most valuable to your employer or your clients.
By networking you can:
- Raise your profile by becoming an established and regular networking member of a group, getting your face and the business known,
- Meet new people and build mutually beneficial business relationships, and
- Expand your opportunities meeting new business contacts with potential customers, suppliers, and business partners.
To avoid being a statistic, you need to be proactive and take control… work every day on becoming distinguished in your career
Savvy professionals view their own career growth and development like a product manager… “what do you need to do every day to stay competitive and ahead of the curve so you stay relevant?”
Networking activities and professional development functions as excellent opportunities to hone their professional skills and expand their professional network, which will increase their value to the organization and help them grow in their career, which is a safeguard against a job loss.
Time is of the essence. Tomorrow it might be too late. Start working on your personal brand, acquire some new skills, and get serious about networking today.
You are your own product manager – for YOU 2.0