Tuesday, April 27, 2010

5 Steps You Must Take Now to Help Your Career

I sort of feel like I've been holding my breath since last fall when the economy started to fall apart and people were losing their jobs right and left. While I've always taken the job of writing career advice seriously, as the job numbers got worse, I found myself waking up in the middle of the night, worrying about the people who had lost their jobs. I interviewed many of them, and their stories stayed with me. I interviewed employers and asked them the same question: "What does it take to get a job these days?"

But I'm starting to breathe a little easier. It's not that the job numbers are spectacular, but things are improving. So I asked myself, "Now what?" That's the idea behind this story for Gannett....

As the economy begins to show signs of recovery, the mindset among some employees is beginning to change. Instead of “hunker down and survive,” at their companies, they’re now beginning to sniff the air for new opportunities. Is it time to ask for a pay raise or promotion? Or just jump ship for new experiences and more money?

Their interest if further piqued as industries from health care to technology to manufacturing begin to make new hires, and recruiters are ramping up their efforts to snare talent. It’s what career coach Joe Lavelle predicts will be “a huge musical chairs game” across companies in the coming year.

“There’s going to be a lot of people leaving their jobs and taking new ones,” Lavelle says.

Lavelle says that while many employees are looking for more money or better opportunities, part of the reason many people will be leaving their jobs is because too many employers should never have hired them in the first place.

“A lot of companies (during the recession) would get 3,000 resumes for one job, so they would look for someone who had exactly the right buzz words on their resume. They didn’t hire for the intangibles, and that meant they didn’t get the best person for the job,” Lavelle says.

Still, Lavelle says that the expected employment churn doesn’t mean that leaving an employer is the best plan for everyone. He says that as employees move from their “job preservation mode” to “career management mode” they should consider several factors. Among them:

· Setting goals. “Now is the time to meet with your manager and talk about career growth and what you need to do to get ahead,” says Lavelle, author of “Act as If It Were Impossible to Fail,” (Results First Consulting, $13.99). “We’re going to start to see more raises and promotions again, so you want to make sure you’re documenting your contributions.” He suggests taking your last annual review and assessing whether goals were met or need to be adjusted, and communicating more often with the boss about new opportunities.

· Trying not to overreact. It’s tempting to think of starting over somewhere else if you’ve been doing the work of several people during the last year and are frustrated at your employer’s lack of recognition or reward for your efforts. “Put away your anger and resentment and think about what you really want to do,” Lavelle says. “Just because you leave a company doesn’t mean you aren’t going to be right back in the same place in another three years, feeling resentful and angry again. It will be the same BS.”

· Considering a re-hire – of yourself. “Why can’t you create an opportunity in the job you have now?” Lavelle says. “Think about how you can get yourself really going again in your current job. Remember that every time you jump ship, you become the new guy somewhere else. And it’s the new person who is the most vulnerable to layoffs.”

· Assessing your company’s strength. While the thought of joining another company or industry may be appealing, do your homework to gauge whether your current job is actually more stable. “It’s going to take a while for different parts of the economy to come back, and they’re not recovering as fast,” Lavelle says. “You may be better off where you are because your company or industry is headed for growth.”

· Making a five-year plan. Lavelle says it’s important to know not only where you want to go in the next year as the economy improves, but how you’re going to evolve and stand out in the next several years so that you’re seen as a top performer.

“Even though people have just kept their heads down and been happy not to rock the boat, there are some industries about to catch fire,” Lavelle says. “It’s time to get ready to make the transition for your career.”

What are some other steps employees should be taking to help their career now?



Megan Zuniga said...

You've made great points so far I don't know what else to add. Making a five year plan--don't they ask that in the interview? Anyway, it's great that there more job opportunities these days. It's important to assess deep down if we're happy with our job, if we're happy at what we do, if we're proud to do what we do, and if we could see ourself staying at the company for the next five years.
PS...Sharing an article on knowing what you want out from life.

Rick Saia said...

Hi Anita!

Excellent advice about preparing for the road ahead, now that the potholes are being patched.

One other piece of advice: Update your resume. But if you have already done that and aren't sure of where you want to take your career, look it over very closely and see where your accomplishments from the past can propel you into your future. If, for example, there will be less opportunity in your industry going forward, look for the skills and accomplishments that translate into positions in other industries.

Anita said...

It will be interesting to see how the year plays out. Some research says that employees are looking for long-term unemployment, while other studies say workers will job hop at the first opportunity.
Thanks for sharing!

Anita said...

I love your description...potholes being patched, indeed! :)
I agree about a resume...reviewing your talents, where you've been and where you want to go is an exercise we should do regularly.
Thanks for your suggestions!

Unknown said...

Anita, You have made some valid points. I just saw this video post "Taking charge of your career"