Perpetual Career Management

By Ford R. Myers
President, Career Potential, LLC

It’s no surprise that people who are conducting a job search focus a lot of their time and energy on updating their résumé, networking, improving their interviewing skills, and so on. They know they need to “be at the top of their game” if they hope to land another good position.

But what about those of us who are currently working and want to move ahead? If you’re like most people, job search activities get little or no attention – that is, until you get laid-off, fired, or just unhappy enough to make a proactive change. It’s human nature to become “career complacent” and focus all your energy on “doing a good job!” But in today’s business world, you need to do more.

What does this mean for you? It means that you should consider adopting a different approach, which we call “Perpetual Career Management.” Instead of being focused completely on your job, your main focus should be on managing your career – at all times, regardless of your work circumstances!

Think of your job as a stepping-stone, or a subset of your entire career. You’re always evolving on the way toward your long-term goals, even if your job is currently secure. In practical terms, “Perpetual Career Management” means engaging continually in a host of activities that you thought were necessary only for job seekers.

Why should you do this? So you can “get in the driver’s seat” and accelerate your own career progress. This way, even if something happens to your current job, you won’t be caught “flat footed.” Instead of feeling devastated, stuck or powerless, you’ll always have career choices both inside and outside of your organization – and a reassuring sense of control.

To become a “Perpetual Career Manager,” here are 10 things you should always be doing:

  1. Keep all your career documents up to date, such as your professional biography, accomplishment stories, testimonials, list of references, etc. By keeping these documents in a current file, you will be ready to leverage them at any point (performance reviews, promotions, applying for a new opportunity, etc.)
  2. Make time for networking to maintain established relationships and develop new ones – both inside and outside of your organization. You should always be positioned to leverage your professional and personal contacts when the need arises.
  3. Take leadership roles in appropriate associations and trade organizations. This will boost your visibility and enhance your credibility in your industry.
  4. Write articles or do presentations in any business venue – association meetings, conferences, trade publications, etc. This demonstrates your level of “trade skill” and expertise. People will take notice, and you’ll become the “go-to” person in your department.
  5. Continue your professional development and maintain your industry credentials through seminars, academic classes, lectures, professional events, conferences, new certifications/ degrees and the like. People committed to developing themselves are the first to be tapped by their organization when new opportunities open-up or new leadership positions are created.
  6. Research and be aware of the “business landscape” – whether it be information about other departments in your organization, other companies or other professionals in your industry. Always know who “the players” are and what they’re doing, and you’ll become a trusted resource in your organization when people need new ideas and current information.
  7. Offer to help people in your network even though they may not be in a position to “help you back” at this time. These people will remember your goodwill – and as the saying goes, “What goes around comes around.” Always offer to help colleagues, contacts and professional friends when the opportunity arises.
  8. Investigate new opportunities both inside and outside of your current department and business unit, even if you’re very happy in your current position. This will help you to know your organization better, understand the market, gauge various aspects of your current position, and stay “plugged-in.”
  9. Always ask yourself, “how can I contribute more?” Doing a good job isn’t good enough. The people who land the best assignments and move-up quickly are the ones who consistently demonstrate their value to the organization in measurable ways – every day, every week, every month.
  10. Practice your interviewing, negotiating and related skills on a regular basis. Offer to meet with candidates who are visiting for interviews. Volunteer to negotiate with vendors or service providers to get better deals. Don’t wait until a career opportunity (promotion, raise, performance review, transfer) arises to polish these skills. Keep them current and you’ll be a more valuable asset to your organization. You’ll also be better prepared to make your next move up the ladder!

Remember: Never get career complacent. The only real “job security” is in expanding your own knowledge and increasing your value to the organization. By adopting the “Perpetual Career Management” strategies outlined above, and integrating these behaviors in a consistent manner, you’ll always be in top form and have plenty of options to fully develop your career potential.

About the Author:
Ford R. Myers is an award-winning career coach and President of Career Potential, LLC. He is author of the best-seller, Get The Job You Want, Even When No One’s Hiring. Ford’s firm helps clients take charge of their careers, create the work they love, and earn what they deserve! He has held senior consulting positions at three of the nation’s largest career service firms. Ford’s articles and interviews have appeared in hundreds of magazines, newspapers, television and radio networks. He has also conducted presentations at many companies, associations and universities. Learn more at www.CareerPotential.com or contact Ford directly at 1-800-972-6588.

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