Monday, July 25, 2016

The One Person Who Can Give You a Great Career

Over the weekend I watched several news hosts interview various people around the U.S. who explained why they planned to vote for a certain presidential candidate in November.

One thing that struck me was the number of people who were either unemployed or about to lose their jobs who decided to base their vote on the idea that a presidential candidate would bring back their jobs and defunct industries to their towns.

I really feel for these people. My own dad lost his job when he was 10 months from retirement. He received a piddly retirement package and spent the next 10 years working in a gas station. He had never done anything else other than work blue-collar jobs and only had a high school diploma.

Fast forward several decades and here I am, a college-educated journalist who has interviewed CEOs, U.S. presidents and lots of really cool people who aren't famous.

But for many years my industry has been changing, and there have been times it has been really scary. Several years ago, not sure what else to do, I decided to follow the advice of the job experts I interviewed over the years and began to invest in my career.

I began by doing things that were difficult (getting a book deal) and followed it up by getting outside of my comfort zone (attending bloggers conferences) and then I made sure I was challenging myself (educational fellowships). I will not pretend that I knew exactly what I was doing, but I found that it was really great advice to follow.

The reason is that I made new contacts in different industries, I showed that I was keeping my skills up-to-date while learning new ones and I gained a lot of confidence to help me branch out into new areas.

Sometimes you have to face the fact that your industry is dying. Or that it's changing. The same thing with your job -- you're being replaced by technology or overseas labor can do it cheaper.

Most of us put aside a bit of extra cash for a vacation or a car or the latest phone. Yet, we don't invest in the thing that is most valuable: our career.

It's your career that will pay for the vacation, the car and the phone. It's your career that will put a roof over your head, feed your kids and your cat and help you save for retirement. So why are you putting it on the back burner, doing a job in an industry that is threatened and may never return? Why aren't you being proactive and trying to learn a new skill or network in other industries or taking advantage of the information online to help further your education?

No presidential candidate is going to do that for you. No one is in a better place to invest in your career than you.

If you're not sure where to start, try the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which provides an occupational outlook on various industries here:

That should help you get an idea of the industries that are expected to flourish and those expected to hit some strong headwinds. It may help you see that it's time to put off buying that new flat screen TV and instead go back to school, learn a new trade or even launch your own business.

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