"If there is no struggle, there is no progress" ~ Frederick Douglass. There are going to be struggles in your career. You are going to make moves up, laterally, and sometimes you have to take a step back to get in the right career lane. It's going to get messy. You are going to make mistakes. It's OK!
Yesterday I encountered a young talent who had posted an unflattering article on her professional Facebook page about her former employer and was encouraging others to pile-on. The reason she was so bitter was that she couldn't live with the terms of an employment agreement that she signed a few years ago. Somehow the fact that SHE signed the agreement, accepted a paycheck under those terms for years, and today finds it doesn't work for HER is now the employer's fault?
Reading this woman's Facebook post and the ensuing comments led me to think about the ways I've watch other talents become virtually unemployable outside their current role, responsibilities, company and industry. There were six that quickly came to mind starting with derogatory comments of a current or former employer:
You bash a current or former employer on your social media platforms. Listen, it lasts forever. Screen caps happen in minutes and you have lost control after the very first one. If you burn every bridge you cross you'll eventually run out of bridges. Welcome to your personal career island. Your next employer is going to wonder if that's how you'll speak about them when you depart. They won't take the chance. Don't do it!
You have unrealistic compensations expectations because of an anomaly or windfall in the past. Markets change so should your expectations. In the 80's or 90's if you were selling real estate or home improvement services in Southern California you hit the jackpot. There was little competition and demand was 2x supply. As a smart entrepreneur once told me "Mike, the tooth fairy only comes once, you better recognize it and take advantage of it when it happens".
Entitlement. If you feel time in position deserves status and compensation it might work well on the way up in a rapidly growing company and industry but when you either time out (media) or your skills become obsolete (tech), you are going to find yourself in a difficult position to maintain what you have. The more entitled you become the more difficult your career search will be.
You have ZERO network because you've been putting all your eggs into a single basket. All of a sudden the job or company is gone and you struggle to identify even 2 influencers that can help you. Our networks LOVE to help, it's human nature. You'll be amazed how others will step up and open doors for you. They might not hold your hand to walk through them but they will open doors.
Your skills are either not transferable or you can't explain how they are. This is what I most commonly see for those coming out of the broadcast news business as it contracts. You must constantly test the waters outside of your current role and industry. As crazy as it sounds, you need to go into the first day of a new job with one foot out the door headed to your next job.
The industry is in rapid decline and you are somehow surprised when you are laid off or your role is outsourced. All success in your career can be dependent upon two simple things: timing and execution. You need to be aware of when the time is right to move and then successfully execute a change strategy. Miss the time or poorly execute and you'll find yourself on the career island.
In summary, the biggest takeaway to all 6 above should be that YOU are in control of your career. You can become timeless if you become a student, have the right level of self awareness, and understand the eventually winter is coming .......
Be Bold. Be Great. Be Timeless.
About Mike McNamara:
Mike has held C-Suite, Executive and Senior Sales, Marketing, Business Development, and General Management roles with Equifax, Cox Enterprises, WW Grainger, and Federal-Mogul Corporation. Mike has led sales, service and operations organizations of over 1,500 associates and accountable for P&L responsibility in excess of $250M.
Dedicated to giving back, Mike formed The MBAR Group in 2009 with the sole intent of providing pro bono career and business consulting services to the underprivileged and underserved. Today as founder and CEO of TalentBlvd, he coaches a number of high profile business and media personalities as well as holding advisory board positions guiding a number of multimedia and small business startups.
Mike earned his MBA from the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University and holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Michigan State University. He is a past chapter President of the American Marketing Association. Mike and family split time between their adopted state of Missouri and family home in NW Michigan where their philanthropic causes include The Kingdom House – St Louis, BACN in Benzonia, MI., and Samaritan’s Purse, Boone NC.