When it comes to developing career and business sense, I must confess to being not simply a late bloomer and a laggard, but a complete imbecile for most of my adult life. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I started to take career development more seriously. And what was the catalyst for that? Why, the birth of a child, of course.
Since then, I’ve learned a few things that I’ll share here. In case you’re wondering, I don’t or haven’t done all of these, but I regret not doing some of them and will incorporate the rest now and in the future. However, I will mention that I’ve used many of these tips to triple my earnings in 4 years. Also, I’ve wanted to write this article for some time now, and it is the accumulation of knowledge gathered from my experience at several companies, not just one or two.
Furthermore, while this is tailored for a tech worker audience, much of it applies across many industries.
- ABL == Always Be Looking. If you’re not looking for your next gig right at this moment, then you’re an idiot. Few things are certain in our modern globalized world, except for death, taxes, and reductions in force. In an uncertain world, you can be fairly certain that your current job is probably not your last. We didn’t create this short-term-live-and-die-by-stock-price world, but we usually suffer as a result of it. Better, then, to be prepared because we know not the day nor the hour. Besides, you never know when you’ll spot a better job than the one you currently have. You wouldn’t want to miss out on that.
- Loyalty is for family. Some companies foster an environment that encourages an us vs. them mentality and puts undue emphasis on loyalty. Of course, it’s great for the company, because it means employees are less likely to leave. Would that this loyalty were a 2-way street, but jobs are removed if the company surmizes that they don’t add to the bottom line. Whether or not you agree with the principle of this is immaterial; what matters is that it happens, and you shouldn’t let things get to that point. By being too loyal to your company, you wind up being disloyal to those who matter most – your immediate family.
- Always have an updated resume posted in a public forum. This ties in to #1, above. You never know who will peruse your web site, and you don’t want to miss a great opportunity. Some people take down their resume when they’re not between jobs. This is silly – if you’re not looking for work, you can let people know that *after* they’ve contacted you. Posting an updated resume online lets you continue to build out your network to prepare for your next job change.
- Be more visible. If your job isn’t what is called “outward-facing” or “outbound” then chances are the only people who know what you do are those who work with you at your company. This is a problem because it shifts the balance of power in your work relationship much too far to the side of your employer. This is why you need to take up external projects visible to the outside world. Do you blog? Do you participate in non-profits? Conferences? You absolutely should. And if your employer complains about moonlighting, then you needto look for work immediately. Remember, your employer is not going to be there paying for your mortgage if you are laid off.
- If you go to work in the morning unprepared to leave by that afternoon, then you’re not listening :) Always be mindful of the possibility that today could be your last at company foo.
- Build your online brand with a web site. In this era of fluid networks and connections, everyone is a brand. Some of you may not like such language, so use a term you find more amenable. Build a web site somewhere and put everything you do there – your work, your hobbies, your thoughts, and anything else that gives people an in-depth look at you. Granted, there are some topics you’ll need to avoid out of common sense – better to not include anything that could be interpreted as hate speech, for example. Also, it’s better if you do this on a site you own, not someone else’s blogging or social media site. More on that next.
- Increase the strength of links to your site. The reason having your own site is important is that if you put everything on, to use one example, facebook, without creating links that point back to your main site, then you give all your link power to facebook. Better to have your canonical web site and then syndicate your content on multiple blogging engines, social profiles, bookmarking sites, etc. With multiple sites pointing to your page, your page rank increases substantially. And just to be really on the ball, have your friends link to your stuff, too. This is much much easier to do if you have complete control over your web site and content.
- Do you write? Writing articles or even blog posts for prominent web pages will do much for your page rank, assuming you can get all of them to link to your site. Of course, this sort of activity also does wonders for your credibility and name recognition, so you should do it anyway, even if you don’t get any return links.
- Track yourself. Have you googled yourself lately? You might think it’s vain. It might be, but it also shows how popular your links are. There are also tools like trackur.com which supposedly can alert you when new content about you is posted somewhere online. I haven’t used the latter, but I google my name frequently to see what shows up.
- Manage your site with an eye towards SEO. If certain keywords or buzzwords are relevant, make sure they’re embedded in your page for Google’s spiders to eat. The more ‘buzzworthy’ the content on your site, the more likely it is to get indexed and be higher in the search results. Caveat: the buzzwords you include nedd to be relevant, or else some search engines will penalize you. You really, really don’t want that.
And, as a special bonus just for you…
11. I find certain social networking tools extraordinarily useful for the purpose of business networking. LinkedIn is especially useful for all things biz networking – and not just job-searching! So Link to me here :) I find Twitter useful as well, assuming they can fix their scaling issues. Twitter is useful because I find out what all my peers are doing and get hot tips on trends. You can follow me here.
In summary, here’s the deal: it’s a big scary world out there and nobody’s looking out for you. so you’d better take matters into your own hands and minimize future risk. You do this by being visible and maximizing your web presence so that you’re easy for others to find.
I hope you find this useful!