Most career narratives talk about what to do to be successful. I’d like to take an opposite approach: Identify issues to avoid or manage effectively so your career isn’t stifled. The following list may be helpful.
- PERFORMANCE – Why would anyone want to hire an under-performer? Your past is a prelude to your future. Ideally, a hiring manager wants to hire someone who has successfully achieved the needed results from somewhere else to apply to their job.
- LACK OF ADVOCATES – If you don’t have a network of supporters, referrals, or connections into the marketplace, half of your job search strategy is eliminated. Your connections from past relationships are a major conduit to your next job.
- FAMILY ISSUES – A family that refuse to relocate limits job opportunities to only the local market. If you’re in a big city, the chances to find a competitive job is higher than in a small isolated town. Unhappy spouses affect careers. I’ve been lucky.
- WRONG SKILLS – Skills that only apply within a certain industry that is in decline will lack opportunity. A journalism major who is writing obituaries for three years may not see promotional opportunities. A supply of talent must be in demand.
- WRONG INDUSTRY / COMPANY / FUNCTION – Care should be given when a job is open in a declining company. Opportunities shrink. A wrong job decision can cost you time, energy and a misstep that will take you off your career path.
- ECONOMIC CYCLE – When the economy is up, jobs for growth will flourish. When the economy is down, cost saving jobs are in demand. Being out of synch can devastate a career plan. Be ahead of the curve no matter where it goes.
- EDUCATION / CERTIFICATION – The trend is your friend. Don’t be hoodwinked with the latest fad. Don’t get an education in a field that will be out of favor by the time you graduate. Look out 10 years for the projected trend in your field. Look at the current and projected supply/demand equations.
- JOB HOPPING / INDUSTRY CHANGE – Moving to a higher-level job is expected. Moving to four different jobs in four years at the same level is a red flag to hiring managers. Find a skill that few competitors have, and your career will advance.
- WAITING TOO LONG / TOO COMFORTABLE – Lastly, the most common cause of career block is with those who want opportunities to come to them without an effort, rather than managing their own careers. Some become too comfortable with their job, lifestyle or status. Then something happens in the marketplace (a downturn, acquisition, competitive expansion) and they’re in a panic. The problem is they may no longer be at the cutting edge of their function and are vulnerable.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but don’t work against yourself. Be smart. Manage your career to your advantage rather than wait for the phone to ring.
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