How to Bulletproof Your Career

by Myers, Ford R. Friday, June 01, 2007
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In the not-too-distant past, ascending the corporate ladder assured management professionals of a bigger office, a stronger compensation package and a more secure future. But today, executives are being told: Don’t get too comfortable in that corner office, and don’t buy that fancy new car or boat you’ve always dreamed of – because your job is just as vulnerable as everyone else’s. Evidence suggests that the higher up the ladder you go, the more precarious your position may become!

The attitude toward executives and the roles they play within companies have drastically changed in recent years. I’ve seen executives who have been with the same company for 20 or more years. They’ve worked their way up the corporate ladder and felt that they had proven their value – then they were unceremoniously dismissed from their positions as if they had just been hired as an entry-level worker.

As a Career Consultant, it’s my job to re-instill the client’s confidence, identify his or her strengths, and “re-package” that individual for the current job market. But, to navigate effectively through the career transition process and ultimately make your career bulletproof, you must first be informed about what’s really going on in the work-world. I see several important trends taking place with regard to executive-level job stability and security, including:

TODAY’S CHALLENGING EMPLOYMENT TRENDS

Job Market Trend 1:

More and more positions, even at senior levels, are now being offered on a contract or temporary basis. The position, in these cases, lasts only as long as is needed to fulfill the employer's contract with their client. This requires job seekers to think differently – more like an independent consultant who works on assignment – rather than as a permanent employee. In many business sectors and industries, it could be said that the “permanent, full-time job” no longer exists as we knew it. This trend also puts the responsibility on the part of the executive to consistently promote and market himself or herself for the next opportunity – and the one after that!

Job Market Trend 2:

Companies are still very cautious and careful about making any hiring decisions of high-paying, senior management positions. Executives seeking such jobs must now “sell themselves” more than in the past. They need to demonstrate just how they will enhance the company’s productivity, efficiency and profitability – or they probably won't get the offer. This means that the job seeker really needs to learn how to effectively present and market himself or herself. Just having the right job titles on one's résumé, or having the appropriate technical skills for the job, are no longer enough.

Job Market Trend 3:

Executives are receiving smaller career transition programs than ever before from the large outplacement firms – and many displaced professionals are getting no career transition programs at all. This means that greater numbers of executives are seeking-out help from smaller, more personal career consulting firms and career support groups.

STRATEGIES TO BULLETPROOF YOUR CAREER

Although the transition programs mentioned above do offer important career management techniques, let me share with you the most important activities you should always be doing to overcome the challenges outlined above, and bulletproof your career for the future:

  1. Keep all your success documents up to date
  2. Put time aside every week for active networking
  3. Join and take leadership roles in appropriate associations
  4. Write articles or do presentations in your area of expertise
  5. Continue your career education, including new credentials
  6. Research and be aware of the competition
  7. Offer to help people in your network on a regular basis
  8. Look at new jobs and investigate other opportunities
  9. Always ask yourself, “How can I contribute more?”
  10. Practice your networking, interviewing and negotiating skills
If you want your career to be truly bulletproof, you’ll need to educate yourself on topics you probably thought you’d never have to worry about again – like self-marketing, networking, interviewing and negotiating. To master these skills, many management professionals are also discovering helpful online programs, free audio seminars, local networking groups, and so on.

And here’s the GOOD NEWS: If you seek-out the right support and leverage vital resources like those mentioned above, you may actually be thankful for the experience of going through transition – ultimately finding a career or landing a job that will be a much better “fit” than those you’ve previously had.