Career Management Lessons They Don’t Teach In School

Playing by The Established Career Management Rules is Playing to Lose

I write about just one thing, career management, about how to get control of your professional destiny and live a successful, secure and fulfilling life, lived on your terms.

Don’t they teach this in school?

Career management has always meant getting into debt for a degree, starting at the bottom, working hard, making sacrifices for the company and being loyal. The rewards would be job security and a nice retirement with a house in town, a cabin at the lake, and maybe even a yacht bobbing at the end of your dock. But we’ve seen that your job is secure only as long as it takes your employer to find someone cheaper, export it to Mumbai or automate it out of existence.

Navigating the twists and turns of a long career in a world where job security is a myth takes a whole new approach. I’ve spent my whole professional life seeing men and women play by the rules and suffer for their dedication, and so I write about career management because there is a need, because playing by these absurd traditional rules is playing to lose.

It’s A Funny Old World

We change jobs roughly every four years (Bureau of Labor Statistics), and will likely experience three or more distinct careers in our lifetime. Add a globalized economy and mix in a catastrophe like the Great Recession, and you begin to see just how loyalty and sacrifice is repaid. Recessions come around every 7-10 years with clockwork regularity since the late 1940’s (BLS, Wikipedia), so we are due for another in the next few years. On top of this, by 2017, 16% of U.S. Jobs at all levels (Forrester Research) are going to be replaced as we experience the invasion of the robots into every aspect of work.

This means a world of work without any job security.

So, what do you do?

You can stick your head in the sand and pray it doesn’t happen to you, or you can commit to learning how to manage your career in an era where the only certainty is uncertainty.

There’s a New Way

This is no longer an either / or world in which you can do anything you want so long as you settle on one thing and do it exclusively, in fact that is a recipe for career disaster. You can and should have multiple goals for a central core career, entrepreneurial endeavors, and the pursuit of the activities that put juice in your life (and can one day be turned into a revenue stream).
These options can and should be pursued simultaneously. This is not about having a “side gig,” it is about having a planned parallel career strategy that pursues all the options to help you level the playing field.

Ways to Get Started:

It takes a new approach to keep your cash flow uninterrupted over a long work life, so that you can survive, prosper and live a fulfilled life on your own terms. Any unanticipated job change is tough and causes economic disruption, to stop such events happening with increasing frequency, get your short term needs under control first and then build comprehensive career management plans.

The Most Financially Important Document You Will Ever Own.

Your most critical need is a working resume, it’s the most financially important document you will ever own. When it works, you work and when it doesn’t you don’t. The ways resumes are stored and accessed has changed so you must learn how to build a resume that works in this new environment, using reliable, credentialed resources. Building a resume that works is harder than you might think, so if you’ve learned how but don’t have the time or the skills, invest in a professionally written resume – choosing that writer with the same care you would use in choosing a lawyer or a CPA. Even if you have a job today, be prepared, don’t be caught unawares by a layoff or downsizing.
Create a Linkedin Profile

Create a LinkedIn Profile that echoes the messaging of your resume.

Colleagues can help you through the rough patches in your career that employers caused. Create a LinkedIn profile that echoes the messaging of your resume. Then build networks that are profession and location relevant. You goal should be to know and be known by all those in your profession, industry, and geography who could become leads to opportunity when the need arises.

Fix Your Weakest Skills

Of all the professional skills you’ve developed to become successful, your two weakest (how to get job interviews and how to turn them into job offers) are almost certainly your weakest. You might assume that you know how these things are done, yet these are the skills that feed and clothe you, shouldn’t you know rather than assume? I do this every day and one client in 500 has a firm grip on these matters. Change your thinking or suffer the consequences.

Re-evaluate Professional Goals.

Re-evaluate your career to date and your goals for tomorrow, asking yourself about the health of your company and profession, and if you are consistently developing the skills that will keep you marketable.

Look to your future goals so that your short-term steps are aligned with those long-term intentions, asking yourself, “How does this assignment, this job, this company versus that one help me achieve my destiny?”

It’s good to have realistic goals for your central career, it’s better if you also have entrepreneurial dreams and work towards them a little every day. Why? Just three reasons:

• You will be impacted by age discrimination
• Robotics will have made 16% of all current jobs obsolete by 2027 (Forrester Research)
• The only real security comes from money you bring in your own front door

Why This Makes Sense

By nature, I’m a guy who roots for the underdog, perhaps because I was one. I’m an American who immigrated in the 1970’s, and even then, traditional career advice didn’t make sense to me, perhaps because this was when the unspoken contract of job security for loyalty was beginning to crack. Today it is nothing short of suicidal to believe in such myths when you live in the toughest world of work any generation has ever faced.

I’ve always believed that your success, security and happiness must be central to any sensible career management plan, nothing else makes sense. For many years, I have pissed off a lot of people on TV and radio stations because this concern for your well-being gets me branded as, “A socialist who isn’t loyal to the American way.” If being loyal to a way of life that chews you up, and spits you out, is the American way, then I guess they’ve been right all along.

Why Should You Believe This?

Over the last thirty years I’ve written 17 career management books, regularly updated in some 85 editions, that have evolved into a unique new approach to career management.

Career management is what I think about, write about and teach every day. It wasn’t something I chose, it chose me. I was a Silicon Valley headhunter, a Director of HR and then Training & Development at two publicly-traded companies; I’ve trained management on employee selection all over the world and I’m a New York Times bestseller with my books collectively published in 60+ languages, oh and I write the weekly career column for the Society for Human Resource Management.

Make today the day you opened your eyes to a new beginning. The Knock Em Dead books and the company’s resume and coaching services are exclusively focused on a career management approach that puts what is best for you first and last. It’s all I care about.

We provide comprehensive resume writing services for all types of professionals and industries. Take a moment to learn more about what Knock Em Dead can provide you.

Knock Em Dead

Knock Em Dead

NY Times Bestselling Author at Knock Em Dead
With 17 books and two optical patents to his name and as someone who last danced with a professional ballet company at age 55, he is clearly one of those who has turned ADHD into a superpower. Martin is also a recovering alcoholic of some years standing, and exchanging one obsessive compulsion for another; he particularly enjoys collecting prohibition-era cocktail shakers.
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  • bertgold

    Outstanding and honest advice from someone who clearly has the experience and wisdom to teach others!