Whether you are stepping into the job market for the first time or navigating it as a seasoned worker, today you need a new set of skills to stay at the top of your game and at the top of the talent pool. I’m not referring to particular skills sets in your industry or role; I am talking about an attitude of thinking like a CEO in your job search or career. Always thinking from the angle of starting up new, of reinvesting, of staying connected . Because nothing is certain in today’s workforce – not for anyone.
You may work for a small non-profit, a 35-person small business or a huge global organization. It doesn’t matter. You need to think like a startup entrepreneur. I talk to people every day in career transition. Many of them are stuck in what I call, the days of the golden watch. It is extremely rare (if it exists at all) where just doing your job working for The Company will get you promoted and keep you secure. I don’t care what your industry, role or level; today you need to develop your own abilities, your own plus points, your own prospects. You shape an identity that’s yours alone. And here’s the key. It’s completely separate from your current job or company.
The million-dollar question here is, Why? Because businesses that don’t invest in themselves are in serious jeopardy. Ditto for individuals.
The key to self-investment
The world abounds with self-help tools to work on your weaknesses. Here’s the deal. Work on your strengths. Develop your transferable skills. Are you an effective writer? Public speaker? Financial whiz? A talented crafter? IT savvy? Hone these skills in a way that will be useful beyond your current job. Start small. That’s the way successful entrepreneurs do it. Speak at a Chamber event. Start a blog on Cloud computing. Offer French tutoring at your local church or community center. You try something. Then you step back and say, “This really worked; I’ll do more of it.” Or, “That did not work well; maybe I’ll try a new approach.” When you have an idea you wish to pursue, set aside one day a week. Start it as an outside project. See where it goes.
The opportunities connection
I just read an article that pointed to an Intelligent Office survey of over a thousand workers. Not one participant said they wanted to be a corporate executive. Instead, nearly 65 percent of respondents wanted to become entrepreneurs. How does this tie in with opportunities? People are still looking for success. The attitudes of how to get that are shifting. Not all of these people will start their own businesses. But their mindsets are moving into how that success is defined individually.
The tie-in? The best opportunities tend to be things where you have an outlook with a twist. There’s a reason you see opportunities where others don’t. You’ve been laid off and your long-time printing employer is not coming back – swimming upstream against the Internet. You think there’s potential providing personal home services in your town – organizational, errands and the like. You see it because you know that the bulk of your neighborhood consists of dual-income couples working 14-hour days and spending the rest of their time carting kids to various activities.
Maybe you’re staying in employee mode. My client Jean went from project coordinator at a medical device company, to a six-figure VP role. She’d always been admired for her technical skills. Her leadership skills were there but invisible. She volunteered for two difficult, high-profile projects, which she executed successfully. Now she was on the radar as a star. The recipe – from a CEO’s point of view – is to play well on what’s happening in the now, Where’s the pain or need? And what do you do well that will make it better? And how will you lead to make that happen?
Don’t forget the N word
Networking is more critical than ever. Keep a strong set of alliances with people, both inside and outside your company. That’s how you get the information and intelligence you need to do your job better and find new opportunities. But those connections have to be give and take. Relationships are living things; they need to be cultivated, or they die. So be helpful. It can be as simple as sending one of your contacts an article you think might interest them. And if you or someone else leaves your company, keep those contacts. Regardless of your current situation, keep these allies. Let them know you will listen and share; you have their backs.
Adaptability = stability
Another common mindset is “I’m unemployed, so I will now transition.” Or, “I hate my job, so I will now transition.” Reactive mode is not your friend. This world, whether you like it or not, is an adapting, evolving place. The only constant is change. And the truth is, you need to adapt and evolve with it. The irony is, adaptability is required for stability. Learning to adapt to the new career landscape is what gives you stability. Most of us want a stable, enjoyable life Then we must be adaptable. The world is certainly not going to alter for us. Never has.
Think about your work from the perspective of not clinging to your job as a child would to his blanket. There’s something no one can take away from you. And that is what you do best. What you do best and love to do. Your life chapters may include starting a small company, blazing a path through corporate channels, or making a living by blogging from your back deck. But you’re the product. You’re the CEO. Create your vision. Have a plan. Go get it!