Do you get at least one phone call a year from someone asking you to come work for them?
We all know and probably envy people who regularly get poached from their current role by another employer. In essence, these people are reaping the reward for their ongoing Career Mastery. Perhaps without realising it, they behave as if they are a business – in career terms, it’s called “Me Ltd”.
When I commissioned our company logo a few years ago, I hesitated a bit, worried that it was perhaps too corny. But I stuck with it (and love it) because it absolutely represents what “Me Ltd” is all about. If you can master all of its elements, you SOAR. Hence, the logo.
Most of us understand that there is no automatic job security any more, even in the Government sector. Our struggle is knowing what to do about it.
So, how can we sleep securely at night safe in the knowledge that no matter what happens to our current employment, we will be ok?
Excelling in the workplace!
The first element of “Me Ltd” revolves around how well you perform at work. Employers are not stupid – they’re not going to try to poach you if you are not good at what you do!
Experts say that roughly 15% of the value we bring to our organisation relates to our Hard Skills. Let’s call it the IQ part of our work and quickly cover off on what’s needed here:
- Do your job properly
After all, we are usually engaged to perform a specific technical function
- Meet marketplace expectations with your qualifications
It’s a dangerous strategy to rely on a track record of success, without also getting the formal piece of paper
- Broaden your skills
Organisations are trying to do more with less, so versatile employees are often more valued
- Strengthen your technology skills
Make sure that you don’t rule yourself out of a role by having weak IT skills
EQ rules the modern workplace
What about the other 85% of our value? Here, we are talking about Emotional Intelligence, rather than IQ. Most of us, consciously or unconsciously, assess each other’s value at work based also on these so-called soft skills. Here are some things to think about:
- Develop your soft skills
Beef up your technical knowledge of key areas such as: Conflict Resolution, Delegation, Teamwork, Time Management, Customer Service and then, of course, put them into practice!
- Treat your boss and co-workers like customers
If you cannot contemplate this, you are either in the wrong workplace or else you are in trouble
- Be a problem-solver not a problem-finder
It’s all very well to bring a critical mind-set, as long as you also offer solutions
- Build relationships outside your unit
Broaden your connections throughout the organisation so that your reputation is widely known
- Be politically savvy, not political
This is one of the most difficult balancing acts and it’s often worth finding an astute outsider to help you find the perfect medium here
- Accept change or move on
If you gain the reputation of being a ‘change laggard’, it is very damaging to your reputation
How well known are you?
All of the above, however, is not enough. It’s not easy for someone to “buy” you in the hidden job market if they don’t know about you. This is an essential skill that is frequently missed by top notch employees.
So, just as your organisation has a marketing plan, you need to develop your own career marketing plan.
Persuasive Career Marketing Kit
It’s hard to market yourself successfully without a strong marketing kit. In career terms, we’re talking about:
- Outstanding written marketing material
- Persuasive interview skills
Interview performance that swings the balance of power to you and wins you the job
- Attractive public speaking ability
Learn how to persuade your listeners in the Board room and on the podium
At the Executive level, the above marketing kit is so essential that it is worth paying professionals to ensure that you excel.
Connect with Key Influencers
The first step is to broaden your contacts within your own organisation and look for an internal mentor. Their role is to be the wise person who also challenges you to grow and stretch yourself.
Finally, you implement a systematic and ongoing program to keep up with your current external contacts and to meet new people.
Don’t fall into the trap of being too busy for this. Devoting yourself to your workplace to the exclusion of your own career will not save you once your organisation has decided that it no longer wants you. “Me Ltd” implies a certain level of (good) ruthlessness where you ensure that you look after your career without relying on your employer to look after you.
Gain expert status
These days, LinkedIn groups are the easiest way for you to gain a solid reputation. I call it being viewed as “good value” – someone who adds to the body of knowledge in his/her profession and who sounds like a nice, sensible person. All from the privacy of your own office. Talk about effective self-marketing!
Career Actions speak louder than words
The final piece of the puzzle is to actually put your plan into action. Tap into standard advice here on how to stick to your strategy. Make sure your plans are SMART, give yourself a reward for achievements – you know how to do this.
Both sides of the Career Mastery equation are vital. So, get started sooner rather than later. And, when you adopt “Me Ltd” as an integral part of your professional life, you’ll be able to sleep at night…at least when it comes to job security.