A Paradigm Shift from Job Search to Career Management

What is meant by a paradigm shift? A paradigm is a way of looking at something. There is a big difference between seeing work just as a job and seeing what we do as part of a career.

In these days of uncertainty, it is wise to approach your work in a proactive way rather than waiting to the last minute and then reacting to circumstances around job loss.

As Harvey McKay wrote, back in the 80’s, “dig your well before you get thirsty.”

80% of jobs are found through the hidden job market and these jobs come mostly through people the job seeker knows rather than just applying to advertised positions. Part of career management is progressively getting to know people in your industry.

Each job should be a stepping stone to the next stage of your career. The employment field is very competitive these days and in order to be noticed you need to stand out. How do you do this? First, recognize your strengths. Think about where these strengths could make the most contribution. Then recognize that you are in the (self) marketing business every day and not just job searching.

Identify companies that you would like to work for. Chances are that you might be unemployed again in 3 to 5 years or tired of your job and looking for another one. In these uncertain times, you can never be sure if there will be down sizing and lay offs.

This is where a career plan comes into play. Build your understanding of your industry as you go along. You will become more knowledgeable of what is going on in your industry and prepared should anything happen unexpectedly. This can be complemented by reading trade magazines, attending seminars, joining your professional association and its events and ongoing upgrading of qualifications and education.

Job security does not come these days from the employer, but rather from you taking responsibility for your career.

Establishing professional relationships requires consistent follow up. When you do this, you put yourself way ahead of the competition because most people don’t.

Your skills, talents and experience are in a sense like having your own business. Today, it is more of a level playing field where you exchange your services with employers in a similar way as businesses exchange goods and services. Increasingly, this relationship looks different than the traditional employer employee relationship of the past. It may be full time work for a while, but it can easily be part-time, contract or consulting work also.

This requires you keeping current in what is happening in your industry and where the needs are and will be. It is about taking a somewhat entrepreneurial approach and keeping an eye open for opportunities.

Think of each new job or contract as a stepping stone towards where you eventually want to be in your professional career. Simply job hunting is reactive, career development is proactive. It is not unusual for someone to change jobs 7 times in their career.

What a person knows is often overshadowed by who a person knows when job searching.  One can be an excellent accountant, for example, but the person who gets the job is the person with lesser skills but more contacts in their field.

In summary, job security these days is more about building relationships and seeing how one can contribute than it is just filling a role. Taking care of your career is like taking care of your health, it is the small but regular daily activities that build towards long term wellness and health.