Career Management Tips

  1. Never be unemployed, even for a day. If you lose your job, volunteer immediately to put your skills back to work, for a friend, for a consultant, in a non-profit agency anywhere. Seek part-time, project, or consulting work as well as full-time employment, because part-time engagements tend to expand and go full time, whether you want them to or not.
  1. Keep your resume ready-to-fire. Last month two senior HR managers received job offers they “couldn’t refuse.” One is now the number two HR executive in a $6 billion manufacturing company, the other will soon build an HR infrastructure to take a fast-growth company public. Both these executives created high-impact resumes months before they needed them.
  1. Find mentors everywhere. As companies reduce headcount, pile on the work, and demand more productivity, the notion of having a mentor—an angel who guides you through your career—may be obsolete. What works now is to develop mentors everywhere. Reach out to anyone who might offer advice or ideas. Have a legal question? Call the lawyer you met in your computer class. Worried about negotiating a raise? Ask a co-worker to describe the approach they took. We are all co-mentors; we need each other. Reach out! Don’t feel you have to go it alone.
  1. Limit your success. Too much success can kill you. I’ve seen driven, type-A managers who can’t take a week off—even with a year’s severance in the bank. How smart is that? Ask yourself if the price you are paying for success is worth the toll on your body, your health, and your personal relationships. If the answer is no, re-evaluate your priorities and make some changes.
  1. A good English class, or advertising copywriting class, could add $20,000-$50,000 to your annual salary. Keep a dictionary and thesaurus near your desk, and keep business writing short—generally, the shorter the better. Cut five-page proposals to one page. Reduce one-page briefings to two paragraphs. Reduce two paragraphs to six high-impact bullet statements. In business, time is precious, so design your communications accordingly.
  1. Think of your career as public relations campaign and try to generate friendships and relationships as much as business results and cash. You have the work (task) and the income (money) and the company (environment)—but that isn’t all. You have your personal career which supersedes your present situation. Don’t get so focused on the present priorities and crises that you forget the bigger picture: chances are, you won’t always be in your present job, and you’ll need friends. One successful jobhunter said, “I create relationships; the relationships create the job offers.”