There’s a lot of pressure on working professionals these days to be better at career management and advancement. The concept of the “company guy” (or gal) is a fading memory, perhaps for good or bad, so professionals need to have a career “plan” or “strategy” to stay ahead of the curve. With a job change every 3-4 years expected, somebody sure needs to manage it.
Not to mention that the job market, despite the plethora of content out there about it, is still a big unknown. Everyone has an opinion about it, but we are all left chasing it while it flies around us in no discernible direction (kind of like letting air out of a balloon, letting go of it, and then trying to catch it).
It’s tough to have a strategy in a world that lacks one itself…if you ask me.
Resumes should be at the ready, LinkedIn profiles should be optimized (not mere repetitions of the resume), social networks should be built to be engaging and active, face-to-face networking should be ongoing, and personal branding should matter at all times.
Therefore, what we end up with is an environment where working professionals are pretty much always in some state of “job search” even when they are happy in their current roles. (Or at least they “should” be even when they don’t want to be.)
So no longer is it really “active” and “passive” job seekers anymore. If you work, you’re on the lookout….even when you’re, well, not.
I’ll be honest, for me, an entrepreneur, this sounds like normal. Why? Because that is pretty much what entrepreneurialism is…constant management and oversight of your business in an uncertain world where you must be on top of everything, from the delivery of the product to the setting of the strategic vision to the art of messaging. And it never lets up…your entire career.
But even if you are like me (and find all this oddly appealing), all successful entrepreneurs quickly learn one important lesson: You need to know when to outsource the things you either aren’t that good at or don’t have time for. It’s hard to do it all, and it’s even harder to do it all well. Just think about it. It’s tough to be an expert on everything job search and career advancement related when, well, you’re busy trying to be an expert at your actual job, right? (Oh and being a spouse, parent, child, friend, community member, etc.)
You need to build a team.
One of the toughest lessons I have had to learn throughout my career, and especially since I became an entrepreneur, is that I need a team. It’s a painful lesson because we don’t want it to cost us much, if anything, and it isn’t easy to know who we can trust. Also, sometimes it is just hard to admit that we really don’t have much of a strategy or plan, that we really are just winging it. Other times we are stuck in the past when we just tossed our resume out there and someone took us. Or we waited around until the company promoted us or bonuses were handed out. It was so much easier back then.
It’s true. Career advancement has changed.
Mobile recruiting, HR policies and ATS systems, LinkedIn/social media, niche job boards, global competition, and demand for specialized skill sets have all impacted the world of work immensely. And many professionals still think because it was easy before for them that it will always be easy.
Well, it can be, but most likely in a different way than it was before.
That’s where having a team comes in.
Did you know that you don’t have to be the one to manage/optimize your social media? Did you know that you could have good, solid opportunities identified for you (by real people, not automated systems)?
Sure, you can. All of this is out there for working professionals who want their career management made more simple and pain free.
Really, it all comes down to one simple thing: understanding the value of collaboration and harnessing it for your career growth.
So as you think about career management, start to think about your role in terms of team lead or champion and less as flying solo.