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Take Stock of Your Career

This long-lasting recession has taken its toll in lost jobs, reduced benefits, and most people doing more with less. But as the economy lifts, there are new opportunities emerging and I want you to be ready. Rather than wait until the coast is clear, why not start now, so you are positioned for your own recovery?

When was the last time you reached out to someone in your field? Have you been eating tuna sandwiches at your desk for the last few years? It’s time to get out of your bunker and go meet some people for lunch. Why, you ask? Because opportunities are starting to pop and you won’t even know they existed until it’s too late. Ask a lot of questions about what’s going on in their company and other companies in the industry. Find out what they know and use the information to reach out to other people.

Has your budget been cut for conferences and seminars? It’s time to ask for a few bucks to attend a session that will expand your awareness and acumen. Even if you have to shell out the money yourself, it may be worth the knowledge and contacts you get. Business travel and conventions are starting to rebound, and even if all you can afford is your local professional organization, work the room, follow up with a phone call and pick the brains of people you meet.

Buy a book about some new ideas in your field. Not only are there books and magazines for most industries, there are plenty of new books on management, the changing workplace and people skills. Ask people around you what they are reading and about the resources they use online.

Take a hard look at your work experience over the last few years. Have you taken on more work, now that the ranks are thinner? Have you worked on projects that helped the company save money, find or keep customers and stay afloat? If you haven’t, now would be a good time to step it up. Complacency is the kiss of career death.

How are your relationships at work? Do you just hang out with the same old pals? Cast a wider net and make it a point to spend a few extra minutes to get to know the people you interact with on a daily basis. I’ve gotten some of my best information about internal opportunities from the guy on the maintenance crew, and the assistant in the copy room. If you’re wondering about something that’s happening in the company, call the manager of that area and ask. I recently was working with a senior manager in a remote location, who didn’t feel he was on the career radar screen with leaders in his company. He decided to get more proactive and called people in different departments, rather than just emailing. When he had an idea about how to improve a process, or he had a question, he started picking up the phone. Within a short period of time he felt plugged in. When the company went through a major reorganization a few months later, people knew his name and the value he brought.

Have you been reluctant to look for a job the last few years, because you didn’t think there was much out there? Things are starting to look up. Some companies are beginning to add people. In fact, stronger companies have been using the recession to buy up weaker competitors and are poised for big growth. If all you’ve done is passively search—job boards, want ads—you are missing the underground network. Start aggressively working your contact list and set a goal of 5 appointments a week. Five informational interviews may seem like a stretch, but shooting for five may net three—which is a far cry from scrolling through random jobs. From the people I’ve been talking to, there is a lot of networking going on and they are going to beat you to it.

If you are a manager, who hasn’t had much turnover in the last few years, you may be in for a surprise as the economy warms up. If you’ve been taking your good employees for granted, you’d be wise to ramp up employee engagement activities. Solicit their opinion, give them visibility and let them run with new ideas. Take time to appreciate their contribution—a thank you goes a long way. A well-treated employee won’t feel motivated to leave, even if the economy is looking up.

Your career is your responsibility. Create your own job security by acting more like an entrepreneur at work. Learn how to “sell” your skills to your organization, add more value on the job, develop your internal advocates and identify your personal motivators with Joan Lloyd’s Success Strategies to Boost Your Career & Help Your Organization. (CD & Workbook) Take charge of your career, today!

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, customized training (leadership skills, presentation skills, internal consulting skills & facilitation skills), team conflict resolution and retreat facilitation. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (800) 348-1944, mailto:info@joanlloyd.com, or www.JoanLloyd.com

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