As I did in a previous article, I want to continue to outline some career management strategies that can keep you in solid career shape.
11. Obtain New Skills/Education/Certifications - Never stop learning. Take advantage of all the training resources at your disposal whether in-house, off-site, online or in the classroom to widen your horizons, outlook and expand your insight. Since America is experiencing credential inflation, a bachelor's degree is the equivalent of what a high school degree was worth 25 years ago. Now, a master's degree is often preferred. In 25 more years, I predict the double master's degree will be valued. Learn skills that are respected at other companies. Build toward promotion - show that you can do the work one job level above your own.
12. Stay Current on Trends - Read the newspaper, business journals or literature in your field to stay abreast of the latest technologies, trends and skills. Anticipate new and advanced core competencies that will help you to stay competitive and will position yourself for further promotions, advancement or job offers.
13. Become a Subject Matter Expert (SME) - In today's "Knowledge Economy," we get paid based on what we know. Position yourself to take advantage of the "Intellectual Capital" that you have to offer. Take on challenging projects to build, extend and apply your knowledge. You will not instantly master new skills and knowledge - so be patient! Remember you are a beginner and erase any feelings of incompetence in new assignments. By incrementally meeting new tasks, you will become more adept and it will test your abilities to integrate new skills. Establish yourself as a source of valuable information and contacts across the company.
14. Create a "Career Portfolio" - Inside this binder or folder include the achievements you are the most proud of including an updated bio, a revised resume and a list of current references. I urge you to update these critical documents annually so you can properly assess what have accomplished during the year.
15. Participate in Professional Associations - Expose yourself to others at the local, regional or national level in your field through presentations, panels, papers, blogs, social media and trade shows. This will only increase your network of connections.
16. Start a Side Business - I'm convinced that the only job security left is the security you create for yourself. If you are let go, having a part-time business, may be your ticket to your future. It will be a lot of work, but you will be building something for you. Start with a passionate idea, and then begin to develop a business plan. This is an excellent way to protect you from downsizing.
17. Join Committees, Publish Articles, Perform Community Service - These are examples of going above and beyond the call of duty. A fertile source of learning can be from teams and work groups or committees. Become a company spokesperson outside the office with radio, television or by using social media. It is harder for an employer to let go of someone that the community knows is a positive representative of the company.
18. Add Value - Be known as a positive contributor. Are you doing everything you can to bring value to your employer? Does your position impact the bottom line? Think outside the box - don't be rigid. Are you noticeable and are the results of your work visible to the decision-makers in your organization? In addition, praise, validate and recognize the contributions of others.
19. Avoid Job Hopping - When times are tough at work, think twice about jumping ship. Decisions based on emotion can run you into trouble down the road. It is best to use logical reasoning and common sense. Carefully analyze the consequences in the short-term, but especially in the long-term from such a decision. Will this move position you for more opportunities or less? Will you get a strong reference if you leave? How long do you anticipate being in the next job? My advice: As soon as you get a job, start looking for your next job. Think two moves ahead. It is always better to look for a job when you already have one.
20. Stretch Yourself - Growing professionally most often occurs in the process of achieving daily or weekly work tasks. Take obstacles, mistakes and hardships as professional development lessons. Your strengths are the building blocks of your career, and they provide the greatest job satisfaction. Focus on them, practice them, build on them and plan your career around them.
21. Stop for an Annual Evaluation - At the end of the year, stop to evaluate. Write your "Annual Self-Report" of your top 10 achievements. Which areas do you want to acquire or improve upon next year? Seek feedback from client and co-workers about the effectiveness of your work. The dreaded Performance Evaluation can be a rich source of information about your perceived performance. Data from appraisals can be useful for improving your future job performance or motivate you to plan an exit strategy.
22. Reinvent Yourself Continuously - The fourth career stage, Career Management, brings you back to the first stage, Self-Assessment. Take care of your career development just as you would your finances, relationships, health, personal and spiritual development. Prepare for change and embrace it because it is the only constant. A career is not chosen for life for most people. A periodic inventory of your skills, values, interests, personality traits, knowledge and goals will help you stay on top of your game.