In light of the events at ESPN yesterday, thought it was a relevant reminder to post this article I wrote last month. It and many more on topic can be found here on my LinkedIn profile, at www.mikemcnamara.com, or at our talent and career management company page www.talentblvd.com.
“I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it’s been” One of the best quotes from the great one, Wayne Gretsky. Are you skating to where your career is going to be or are you stuck in where it’s been? Below is an article written in March 2017 with a link to some Jared Lindzon insights on the job market in 2017 but more importantly, 5 things that could be important to managing your career in transition. These are the things that will put you in position to be successful and drive towards where YOUR puck is going to be!
Success! 5 Things Critical To Finding Your Next Career Opportunity!
I’ve been coaching and mentoring for more than 20 years. Many times its because an associate, friend, or family member has been thrust into a difficult situation regarding their job. They might be part of a reduction in force, a spousal relocation, or just a conundrum regarding the next steps. Might be “I don’t know what I want to do” or “I’m not happy here” or “I know what I want to do but I don’t know how to get there”. When faced with potential planned or unplanned change in job status, there are some critical steps and actions to ensure successful outcomes. When you have managed your career the right way, you will have significantly more options and opportunities ahead. If you think about managing your career as building a pyramid, there are many shared attributes that result in best practices and more successful long term outcomes.
These are the five things you should incorporate into your career planning strategy:
1. Slow Down, take Time to Plan and Prep.
How many times have you heard someone landing a new job say “It happened so fast”? Rarely. if ever, I would bet. The process has grown inherently slow because of highly matrixed organizational structures. You have time and I always encourage mentees to not immediately blow out unsolicited emails with resumes/reels/demos. I’ve recently heard that the average time a recruiter spends with a resume on first pass is something like 17 seconds. Make sure you are buttoned up, social media and beyond.
- Clean up and prep your social media presence; LinkedIn profile, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
- Build your bank of references and recommendations that support your direction.
- Construct an effective “Reason for Leaving/Change” Statement and new Elevator Pitch.
2. Write, Produce, Direct, and Promote the “My Career” Movie.
All your career pieces should fit together like a puzzle and form a clear picture for your target audience. Nothing you have done stands alone, everything is connected – education, professional experiences, personal interests and hobbies. Your challenge is how you weave it all together to build a portrait of your career. How do you create relevance from where you were, or are, to where you are headed. Whether you use a W3 or S-A-R method or both, you should be able to help your audience make a seamless transition from past to present.
- Become a storyteller. Take your audience through an interesting movie called “My Career”.
- Do the translation. Clearly articulate how what you have done is relevant to your new opportunities. You have rich experience and sometimes all you need to do is connect the dots.
- The S-A-R Method will help you crush it. Describe a Situation. Review the Actionyou took. Highlight the Results.
3. Bigger the Base, the Taller your Career Pyramid.
The more cross functional experiences you have, the larger your career foundation is on two very important fronts:
- Your personal toolkit. This is your reference point to apply relevant critical thinking to opportunities you are going to find in future roles.
- Your network. Your next opportunity will likely come from your personal or professional network.
Always be open to entertaining opportunities to move laterally to gain more experience. Specialization and becoming a SME in a particular area or subject will feed your ego and feel good but be cautious if you have broader aspirations. I’m not saying to ignore your passion, I’m suggesting you take your passion and apply it on a more global basis. If you are a world class forensic accountant, try applying it to multiple industries. If you are an entertainment, news, or sports reporter, learn the business side of the industry to see how/why some decisions are made.
Challenge yourself to get involved in community. If you have time, find a charitable organization or a cause you are passionate about. You’ll be amazed at the rich interaction you’ll have with the CFO of a bank as you stand shoulder to shoulder making PB &J’s in a production line at a food pantry. By reframing the environment, you can gain valuable network connections and potentially a resource for friendship and fellowship for life.
4. You’ll Need Help.
Your career is not made in a vacuum. You are going to need mentors, coaches, and champions to ultimately reach your goals. Face it, unless you have amazing clairvoyance and self awareness, it’s best to collect and analyze data points from those around you. Do you have a mentor, a coach, or a champion? If not, find one. In addition, there are best practices around your interactions with your coach and others. You need to consciously focus on two things:
- Your Network Effect. The people I most enjoy interacting with leave me exhausted. They are critical thinkers and challenge in a healthy and inquisitive way. They have a ‘network effect’ mentality by becoming a sponge and continuously building. In essence, they apply what they learn from me to what they learn from others and build off of it. What happens is not one plus one equals two. There is the compounding of their network that turns one plus one into three!
- Be approachable and vulnerable. If you always play it safe, you will never stretch the boundaries of your framework and it’s your own personal frame that limits your capacity. I wrote an earlier post on how a simple exposure to new information or an experience can significantly improve your performance. Make your thoughts vulnerable until proven. Next, ALWAYS be approachable. Your next offer could start with a conversation in an elevator, a dentist chair, or in a small group at church. Welcome help. Welcome new ideas, Your willingness to grow your career should be inviting, always having an open door with a welcome mat.
5. Quality and Results Matter.
How do you build a career that can withstand constant macro economic forces and uncontrollable changes in your landscape? Simple:
- Make sure your strengths and biggest accomplishments are transferable. I have recently been fortunate enough to work with an outstanding young storyteller. He has so refined his ability to tell a story that he has opened many future avenues. Could he move from broadcast to a corporate comm role? Could he explore a corporate sales or marketing role? You bet he could. Why? He’s able to make the connection between past and present with his audience. Whether you work in a technical field or in the arts, it’s critical that you continue to validate your skill’s relevance to a changing world.
- Quantify your results. Everyday you make a difference and a contribution towards something. Your company, your family, your church, your school. What is it that you are adding? What does it mean in dollars or time. Catalog it. There will always be a company or an entrepreneur out there that will pay you to do it for them.
- Recognize change around you and have a bias towards action. In today’s business environment, especially in multi-media, change is coming quickly. If you are standing still, you are moving backwards. Be a student of internal and external forces. Spot trends and know how they are changing the face of your professional world. If you are in the broadcast news media business for example and you aren’t consciously creating alternative channels via a social media strategy and managing your personal brand, well……forget it, you not likely to be reading this anyway.
- Look for quality, strive for quality. Whether it be professional experience or education, demand quality. The richer your experience, the more transferable it will be across industry sector and function. No one has ever challenged the value of a Harvard Law Degree (other than maybe a Yale grad).
Think about managing your career in a way that you:
- Start broad and build a wide diverse base or foundation.
- Build off your experiences, leverage your network.
- Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Find a coach, a mentor, a champion.
- Develop transferable skills and be clear on the value you bring.
see this and more than 50 articles on career and talent management at: www.mikemcnamara.com
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 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. In 2016, he founded the media talent and career management company TalentBlvd. Today he coaches a number of high profile 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 also 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.