“Take Back Your Career”
If you’re thinking about what your career will look like in 2004, start by stop worrying about layoffs and feeble job growth and hoping things will be like they were before.
For one thing, the way things were wasn’t exactly normal. When jobs were aplenty–roughly between 1997 and 2001–the unemployment rate averaged 4.48%. It hit the lowest level in more than 30 years during 2000.
If you take a broader look at unemployment figures, say between 1976 and 2001, unemployment averaged 6.1%. Between 1946 and 1993, the average rate was 5.8%. For further perspective, look at the unemployment rate in 1932 which was 23.6% and 14.6% in 1940.
Second, there will always be dynamics–some totally unexpected–that affect the economy and unemployment such as fear of war, war and September 11. You don’t control these dynamics.
The only thing you control are your choices. By declaring you’re going to take back your career, you can make powerful choices that will keep you tuned into the marketplace and help you make realistic decisions no matter what the dynamics or economics. Here are four ways to do that and start taking back your career.
1. Create a manageable plan.
Depending on your personal situation, for now you may need to create two plans. One is a short-term plan that allows you to pay the bills and could mean just taking what you can get to get you though a rough time. This is temporary.
But don’t take your eye off the long-term. Create a plan that helps you get what you want–your next career position. Figure out the specific steps you’ll take and start doing them. Creating short- and long-term plans helps you take care of immediate needs and minimize panic while putting focused energy on your career goals.
2. Quit calling people up when you’re in trouble.
Instead, start building and sustaining authentic relationships.
If you’re only talking to people about your career goals or job objective now that you need them, stop it. It’s insulting. Instead, make a commitment to create and maintain relationships with people you like and respect. Approach people with that as your objective now and keep talking to them once you’re out of the woods. Make this a habit, not a default plan. When you need these people, they’ll be there for you. And when they need you, you’ll be there for them. It’s not only a more productive way to create a career, it’s more satisfying.
3. Know what your best six strengths are and how to talk about them.
If you can’t rattle off the six things you do best and someone would pay you to do, you don’t know your strengths. This is the foundation for building a career since this is what you take with you to other industries, companies and careers. When you know your skills and how they can transfer to other positions, you can convince prospective employers how valuable you can be to them.
4. Commit to reading a magazine such as Forbes or Fortune.
This helps you stay up on market trends and determine how you fit into the world as dynamics and needs fluctuate. You can get ideas for new positions. You can track where you’re deficient in your knowledge or skills and what you need to do to stay current. You’ll also gain insight into companies you may want to work for and the CEOs who run them.