7 reasons you need a plan B for your career.
I recently returned from an electricity conference in Kingston, Jamaica hosted by Jamaica Public Service Company where more than 375 women gathered to collaborate on “how women do energy differently.” Professionals, engineers and CEOs from around the globe gathered to discuss the energy industry and how to manage their careers.
It was clear to me from the energy in the room (pun intended) that this group of women was well on its way to managing their careers “up” in their industry.
But what happens when the industry you have invested your entire career undergoes instability and decline? Even if your industry is robust with an attractive customer base and growth opportunities, mergers, acquisitions and divestitures can wreak havoc in your career.
And as stable as the electricity industry is, at least in Canada and the US at the moment, the oil and gas industry itself is in a precarious state. According to the Financial Post, the oil industry lost 100,000 jobs in Canada by the end of 2015.
If you are in a mature industry or one that is cyclical, having a back-up plan is a wise move. In spite of a solid track record and pristine personal performance, companies—and industries—can change in a heartbeat. External factors — that you have no control over — can also impact your decision to make a job or career change.
These can include:
- The company you work for was bought (or they bought another company). An acquisition or merger may impact your job as company management and the board assesses redundancies in personnel between the two companies.
- There’s been a change in leadership in your company. One of the top reasons for making a job change is when you get a new boss. Maybe he has his own former employees he brings into your department, or maybe his leadership style just doesn’t feel right to you. In either case, it may lead you to think about making a change.
- You were asked to do the same job for less money. If this hasn’t ever happened to you, you may not believe it’s possible, but some companies ask their employees to take a pay cut but continue to do their full workload. If you can’t afford to make less but work the same amount — or more — this may prompt you to look for a new job.
- Your workload was reduced, along with your opportunity to earn more. If you work in commissioned sales, you may find your sales territory reduced, which may impact your ability to earn even the same amount as before.
- You’re in a dead-end job. For whatever reason, the job you’re in now is “the end of the line” with this company. Folks who make it this far at this company usually don’t advance any farther, and generally retire from this role.
- The industry you work in is dying or going through significant changes. Consider the mortgage industry in 2008, or the newspaper industry today. Or the feast-and-famine cycle of the oil-and-gas industry. If you’re in an industry that is likely to go “bust,” the decision to change careers may not be left up to you.
Act today by taking inventory of your skills and accomplishments. To figure out where you’re going, you must first look at where you’ve been.
Here are some questions to help you assess where you are:
- What are you most proud of this past year — personally, and professionally?
- What went right this year?
- Did you receive any awards or recognition this year?
- Did you take on any additional responsibility this year? If so, what?
- How did you take initiative in your job this year?
- Have you learned new skills?
- Did you earn certifications or licenses?
- Did you grow your network outside of your own industry?
Record this information and take time to record your accomplishments as you go through the year instead of waiting until the end of the year.
Next, look at opportunities for improvement in your career. Is your current position in alignment with your priorities and your core values? Where is change needed? What fences need to be mended or relationships fostered?
Articulate Your Goal
Decide what you want. Spell it out: What does it look like; what does it feel like? You have to really want it to invest the time and energy to follow your dream. Describe your ideal job:
- What is your ideal employer? (size, industry, culture, location, structure)
- What is the compensation structure? Equity? Long-term performance plans? Stock options?
- What are the most important benefits — other than salary — that would prompt you to go to work for a new company?
- Describe your ideal work environment. What do you want your next job to do for you that your last job didn’t do? In other words, what will be different about your next job? Is there anything that you do in your current job that you don’t want to do in your next job?
Assess your professional networks
What industries appeal to you? What companies? Who do you know in those industries?
Assess your professional networks
Remain relevant in your career and industry by stepping out of your organization.
Recalibrate your objectives quarterly
Ensure that you are making progress—assess and act.
The national average for today’s job search is 240 days. Bolster your career plan by collaborating with a certified career strategist who can help you identify the right target and execute faster.