Practice Career Management to Avoid Career Crisis
By: Deborah Walker, CCMC


Have you ever been caught in career crisis—sudden downsizing that finds you without a job, without prospects for a job, and without contacts who can refer you to jobs? Job seekers in career crisis make decisions based on fear and expediency rather than logic and clear planning. Career management helps one avoid career crisis.

There are three basic elements of effective career management:

* Long-term career goal and strategy.
* Active and ever-growing network of professional contacts.
* Annually updated resume.

A long-term career goal and strategy prevents one from falling victim to the “any road will get you there” syndrome. Several years back, my husband and I decided, on a whim, to take a ten-day road trip. We didn’t want to bother planning, so we threw our bags in the car and headed south. Our spontaneity got us three days in pea-soup fog, three days in pouring rain and two days on the curviest road in California. Unfortunately, most people spend as much time planning their career route as we did our vacation route.

In determining your career goals, ask yourself what you’d like to do and how much you’d like to earn in three, five and ten years. Then, analyze the feasibility of your goal by asking three questions:

* What is the long-term marketability of my chosen profession?
* What are the long-term prospects for my chosen industry?
* What additional skills, education or training do I need?

Once you’ve determined the feasibility of your career objectives, identify the steps needed to obtain your goals. Those steps may include transitioning to a new industry, working towards an MBA, or transitioning into a new department within your current employment.

Whatever your career objective, you’ll reach it sooner by including the two other elements of career management into your strategy: networking and maintaining a current resume.

The cornerstone of long-term career management is effective networking. Networking simply means making yourself visible to those who have the power to introduce you to better opportunities. Effective networking involves increasing your visibility in three groups or sectors:

* Your place of employment.
* Your Industry’s professional associations.
* Influential recruiters and headhunters.

Let me explain.

You’ll want a strong network of supporters within your own place of employment for internal upward mobility. When your coworkers leave for new opportunities they will remember your name when their new boss asks for candidate referrals. To increase your visibility and credibility, volunteer for tasks or committees that allow you to rub elbows with those higher than yourself or who themselves seem to have power and influence within your company.

Build a strong network of contacts with a variety of professional associations that expose you to persons of influence among your industry competition. At a recent networking event, I witnessed several hiring managers in the group scouting out good candidate prospects. Again, when your good sense perceives a strategic advantage, volunteer to chair a committee, hold an office or participate in event planning with fellow-association members. Make yourself visible to the group.

Once you implement good networking strategies for the first two groups, opportunities will begin to come your way via recruiters and headhunters. Gaining exposure within your company often gets your name published in your company’s news release, news letter or industry publications. Headhunters use these types of publications to build contact lists. Get your name in print as often as possible. The same is true with your associations. Headhunters sift through any association publications for contacts. Headhunters also ask their industry contacts for referrals. If you are highly visible in both your company and professional associations your name will to come up often among headhunters.

The third element of effective career management is maintaining an up-to-date resume at all times. With a current resume you are:

* Ready when opportunities arise from one of your networking contacts.
* Ready when a recruiter calls with just the right career move.
* Ready for those unforeseen layoffs and downsizing.
You’ll be able to take full advantage of any situation when your resume is kept current. Schedule your resume update just as you would your dental check up or annual physical.

When updating your resume ask yourself the following:

* Has my career focus changed?
* How does my current position relate to my current career objective?
* How does my past employment relate to my current career objective?

The important thing to remember is that each time you update your resume it should convey a clear marketing message that reflects your current career objective.

Given our current economic climate with corporate uncertainty at epidemic levels, career management strategy is vital for any person who wants to see his or her career and earning power continue to grow. Resolve to make 2003 the year you take control of your career destiny.


Deborah Walker, CCMC
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