Be Ready for Anything

Posted by Judy Anne Cavey on Feb 1, 2012 in , , | No Comments

It’s a good time to evaluate career goals…

The latest economic projections are shaky given the problems in Europe, U.S. unemployment figures, and a housing market that’s barely breathing. Experts are using words like double-dip recession, inflation, stagflation–all to describe what might possibly materialize in 2012 and beyond.

Because we are in such uncertain times, getting ahead today takes more–an investment of extra work, enthusiasm, and energy.

Below are tips to help you evaluate your career goals while trying to stay one step ahead of pink slips.

Today’s Lateral Moves

In Money magazine, Eliane Pofeldt wrote and article, “Put Some Punch into Your Career”, highlighting key actions to consider to keep you employed. Lateral moves used to be considered demotions, but today, the “zigzag” method seems to be the way to go according to the article.

Moving laterally within your company allows you to either gain more skills, or hone the ones you already possess without trying to find a new job elsewhere. Also, if you find there is a long line to the top and you’re becoming bored where you are, you may want to consider a new job function.

Ms. Pofeldt’s article encourages people to look at the internal job listings of your company–in smaller divisions–there you may get more responsibility. Having a good relationship with HR helps too, they can assist you and act as an advocate. Also, get the boss involved, he or she can help you realize your transition.

Be the Problem Solver

“Bosses who are nervous about their own jobs hang on to projects they think are important,” says David Couper, L.A. career coach, so getting an assignment which could catapult you into your next job might be few and far between. What to do? Look for areas where your boss is weak–or a departmental crisis affecting your boss–then offer up some help. Sarah Hathorn of Illustra Consulting, a career advisory firm, suggests, “Say, ‘I know this project is due, and I’d love to learn this aspect of the business. Could I take on X or Y?’ ” By doing this, you’re proving yourself valuable.

Hone the Right Skills

Employers are recognizing a gap when it comes to skills deemed important. If you take the time to fill the void, it might help you get ahead. Below are percentages employers gave regarding skills in demand and how their employees stacked up:

  • When it comes to communication, 80% top managers felt it was important to have good communication skills to advance. However, only 38% rated their employees as having better than average communication skills.
  • Another important skill to employers is critical thinking abilities, 73% felt it was important for an employee to have but believed only 52% of their employees possessed that skill.
  • Collaboration or team building skills 72% of managers cited as essential and at the same time believed only 47% of their employees had better than average skills.
  • Creativity or innovation are included as being critical with 66% of the managers agreeing those skills were on their list, yet only 37% of their employees currently demonstrated those skills adequately.

Watch Out for Change

Don’t run and hide at the first sign of any major changes within your company. Mergers, acquisitions, and pink slips often have many running for cover, but going into hiding could be your undoing.

Ms. Pofeldt suggests to look for ways to use the shake-up to recast your role. Staying invisible will only help to discount what you contribute–making it easier for someone to hand out a pink slip. Volunteering for duties held by someone whose job has been eliminated, or offering to mentor incoming employees (you don’t have to be an older worker to mentor), may increase your value.

Basically, what employers want is an employee who goes the distance and understands they have to showcase their value, one which knows what’s required–and delivers.

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