How many people do you know that have been with the same company for for 20+ years? Probably very few – right? I’m always amazed when I find someone that’s been in one place for 15 years or more.
In fact, how many job roles have you had? How long have you spent at any one company? Our tenure in any given spot is getting shorter and shorter, isn’t it? It’s a cultural mega-trend.
We increasingly live in a mobile, free-agent economy. Companies scale up and downsize rapidly, and we switch roles and employers far more rapidly than our parents or grandparents ever did.
That means we need to be “Career-Transition-Ready.” What I mean by that is: our direction, our resume (or LinkedIn profile), our message, and our network need to be continually primed, so that we can make important transitions with very short notice.
Here is why:
- We live in a time of creative disruption. Remember Blockbuster? Fotomat kiosks? Kodak? Technological shifts mean entire industries appear and disappear, if not at light speed, then at least at autobahn speed. And the pace of change is only accelerating.
- Your employer is not your friend. Will you do yourself a huge favor? Read this post from Lifehacker. Please.
- Your network is your safety net and your opportunity pool. Classified ads and Monster.com aren’t going to get you your next job. It’ll be through the endeavors of your well-connected network compadres.
- No-one else is going to define you. You need to take responsibility to define who you are (strengths and sweet spot) and craft your message. A list of facts on a resume doesn’t cut it.
Unfortunately, most of the people I end up advising scramble to become career-transition-ready only when they’ve lost a job. That’s the worst time to lay a foundation. We should see our readiness as a continuous, lifelong process – our development and career vector is in our hands, and we need to own the responsibility of crafting our own future.
If you’re really good at what you do, warm with people, and possess a good reputation, you will be desirable in the marketplace. It doesn’t hurt to do some window-shopping and have some interested others nibbling even if you’re content in your role today. In a prior company, I worked on one (already-employed) candidate for 18 months before she was ready to take the next step. She never got close to an unemployment line.
Be always looking, always networking, always refining your message. It’s far better to step directly from one boat to another (that’s going in the right direction already) than to get tossed overboard and have to flounder around looking for a life ring.