Job security through career planning

Jobs are like busses, if you get on the right one, you arrive at your destination

Abstract: Career planning for job security – Visibility, choosing the right employer, your brand and importance of a Mentor.

Are you in the career you planned when you were in college? Have you had more than one career? Do you know where you want to be in three, five or seven years? Do you know how to decide? Do you know how to make it happen?

My most successful coaching clients are able to articulate short and long-term goals. They are courted by hiring authorities, recruiters and peers. They know their brand, their¬† value to prospective employers and exactly how to articulate that value. And they know when to say ‘no’ to an opportunity, no matter how seductive, because they have a plan.

Just as a vision is critical for the success of a company or product line, so too is it critical for the success of a career. And just as with a product, when course corrections are made due to unforeseen opportunity or risk, the right changes are made and the career is not derailed.

Managing your career means you are likely to earn more money over your lifetime.

Example: Rod S. is a Seattle area IT executive known locally for fast problem resolution and innovative solutions for back office tools. He works for a recognized leader in delivering products and his team makes that happen.

Rod is 41 years old and eager to leverage his reputation into a higher paying job that will get him closer to his savings goals. When a NYC company came courting with the promise of a $200k increase in his paycheck, he was ready to pounce.

Rod’s long term goal is CIO of a Seattle technology company. The job is for a non-technology company that needs someone to get them up to speed in their IT deliverables. He has the skill set and knowledge to do that. He knows he can do it and convinced himself it is a good move, even though it is not in Seattle.

Risks: Moving to NY to a non-technology company takes him out of the mainstream IT arena. His network is diminished, his work hidden from view. He cannot later leverage the ‘brand’ of the company, nor his personal brand as an IT leader since his work will be invisible to the outside world. He loses the kinetic momentum of Seattle peer relationships and, while he will have a larger pay check, his expenses will also be higher. In truth, the job is seductive only on paper.

If he takes that job, he delays or kills his opportunity to be CIO of a technology company because it does not move him closer to his goal in any way.  And worse, because non-technology companies are notoriously resistant to technology innovation and change, he will probably self select leaving within 18 months, thereby corrupting his resume with a short tenured job, out of state from his intended home.

Net: Can I be successful here is more important than how much money you I make. You are building a career, not just taking a job.

Your resume and your career: The Wall Street Journal reports that 40% of executives leave their jobs within 18 months.

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.]

There are no reasons or circumstances employers accept when faced with that choice. Preserving your resume is critical to your career success. Thus, career planning is critical to avoid taking the wrong job. Knowing how to vet a prospective employer is equally important.

Employers are very good at telling an executive what they want to hear when they want to hire them. It is incumbent on candidates to dive deep to discover the real truth. Job Search Debugged lists the criteria investors use to vet a company and also talks about how you can get to the truth.


Of six recent clients, two had less than three years in four recent jobs, two had a pattern staying six+ and one had eleven years with the same company.

Eleven years = Job opportunities came to him which were all significantly more senior than his current role.

Six year pattern = Hiring authorities and investors tapped him for similar roles to the one he had with greater responsibilities and or more $$.

Less than 2 years in more than two recent jobs = No one reached out and their job search was stressful and frustrating. Only second tier companies were interested and compensation was not as high as in the other two scenarios. [Read ideas to overcome this issue]

The importance of the kindness of strangers. Determine where you want to be in three-five years and know how to get there.

I have always found it somewhat magical that anyone aspires to a given job without actually knowing what that job is about. Sure, we talk about titles, but do we really know what tasks the individual does?

Get to know people who have the job you want in five or more years. Ask to shadow them, ask questions about how they got to where they are and what worked, what they would do differently. There is no better preparation for a new role than knowing what it requires in more than the theoretical sense. You need a roadmap.

Mentors: Those clients who have a mentor tend to be promoted faster and receive accolades more frequently. One such individual was commended by the CEO for having contributed to the betterment of the corporation because of the processes he brought into his own department which were then duplicated elsewhere. His mentor guided him towards that outcome.

Your personal brand opens doors.

Think you can just call an established executive and ask them to your board? Think again. They have to feel supporting your efforts will make them look good. And for that, you need a highly visible track record.

That’s where your brand comes it. You have a brand whether you created it purposefully or not. Get control of it using social networking opportunities and any public forums or speaking opportunities. Job Search Debugged speaks to building your brand, step by step without making it so time consuming you have little else to do. Know your brand and use it when people ask what you do or where you work. It is your elevator pitch for social circumstances.

In Summary: When you are branded and networked, jobs come to you. When people know you they refer you and invite you to participate. There is nothing like an excellent personal relationship or strategic introduction to overcome ageism issues and career obstacles.

You are judged by the company you keep. Work hard to maintain your brand, stay in the radar of the right people, chose the right opportunities and your career will be resilient and lucrative.


For support on career development and job search methodologies, consider career coaching and/or reading books filled with examples, scripts and advice from hiring authorities. Clients who take my advice get the promotions they are after and the jobs they want. In the last 3 years 98% of my clients achieved their goals within six months. In the last two years 100% achieved their goals in well under that time.

Contact me to discuss your specific challenges to see if coaching is the right solution for you. Not certain? Want field tested guidance? Read Job Search Debugged and Networking Debugged

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