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Are you building a career or just looking for a job?

By , July 7, 2010 11:47 am

Career development as an investment strategy; invest in your future.

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Career development is not something most people think about. Most people are job-focused and ignore the impact today’s job has on tomorrow’s opportunities.

Why implement a career development strategy?

  • Managing your career means you are likely to earn more money over your lifetime.
  • As you age, excellent career development can alleviate ageism issues.
  • With a career development plan in place, job search becomes easier. It is your hedge against unemployment.
  • Your personal brand precedes you and jobs more often come to you.
  • Career development planning reduces the risk of layoffs and obsolescence.

Most people lope along in their careers opportunistically. They respond to recruitment pressures and get swept up in the concept of winning the competition for a new job without evaluating the long term consequences of that job. Or worse, they are forced to do a job search unexpectedly and respond to which ever offer comes first. Both tactics can result in career-limiting decisions.

Example:

Ronnie was offered what she thought was a magnificent opportunity as Director of Finance in a Chicago company. The money was good and she’d have a larger team to manage in a lower cost of living geography. She accepted the job and four years later, when it was time to return to California for family matters, she found job hunting excruciating.

  • Her California network had dried up
  • Her experience was no longer relevant because she had learned no new skills
  • Since she had not worked directly with investors or orchestrated strategic alliances and acquisitions her experience didn’t map
  • Her experience with a no-name company did not impress and could not be leveraged
  • Her compensation was out of sync with California salaries and the relocation expenses an issue

She finally landed a new job in California, but it was almost identical to the one she left which meant, her long-term goal of CFO, was thwarted, perhaps forever.

Where did she go wrong?

Had Ronnie evaluated the job the recruiter presented in terms of her long term goal to be a CFO in the medical equipment world, she would have passed on the opportunity. She was swept up by the momentum and flattery of being courted. Instead of asking if this was the right move for her, she responded with what do I have to do to win. The result was, she won the job, but lost her career momentum.

  • Is the company in the medical world?
  • Is the company respected and revered by future prospective employers?
  • Will the job help me grow my skill set?
  • Will I work on strategic alliances, taking the company public or other momentous and differentiating accomplishments?
  • Will I have the visibility and acknowledgement in my field to grow my network and personal brand?
  • Will the resources and team quality permit me to execute to the best of my ability?
  • Is this a company where the challenges and culture are sufficient for a tenure of at least four years?
  • If the company is early stage, how is the company viewed by other investors?

When I work with executives who decide to change jobs, and even those for whom the decision has been made by others, the first task is making a go/no-go list. Career objectives drive which opportunities, which people and even which locations will be considered. They focus on how any opportunity can support their long term goals and have a ready ‘no’ for those that don’t.

Knowing and focusing on the career objective means clients can articulate clearly to any prospective employer exactly which opportunities would be appropriate and saves them from burning bridges by pursing opportunities that don’t. They build their brand around their goals and when they are recruited for the right jobs, they know it.

Please share your own career development stories in the comments section. Let others learn from your experience.

Are you in the Seattle area? Want to learn more about career development? Come to the free session on August 17 from 7-9 for: Career Development Hurdles: What they look like and how to scale them, sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Seattle.

All are welcome to this free event but do sign up in advance since space is limited. Come with questions and I will try to get to as many as possible in the time allotted.

If a brief one-on-one session appeals to you, purchase Job Search Debugged and Networking Debugged and schedule a 15 minute pre-event session. You can even let me know in advance which aspect of your career you’d like to discuss so we can use that time to give you the substantive advice you want.

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2 Responses to “Are you building a career or just looking for a job?”

  1. [...] And every one who does potentially creates serious career damage. Employers believe people who stay in jobs 4+ years are better than those who move around. The first thing anyone who views a resume checks for is the pattern of longevity. You can offer all sorts of reasons for leaving but the fact is, any candidate with a sturdy work history aces those without. [For more detail.] [...]

  2. [...] Job Security sometimes means, just say no to a job [...]

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