Career Management is strategy, jobs are tactics

By Scot Herrick | Cube Rules Commentary

Mar 14

Career management is boring. Seriously, for as much written about career management, people don’t act on the writing. You might read about career management, but when was the last time you did anything more than think about your career?

Jobs, however, you will act on. You go to work, plow (or plod) through the day, figure out how to survive on the job, and figure out how to make the next move to the next department or job or gig. You have to wade through office politics, bad bosses, clueless management, great people, obstructionists, corporate speak, great management, and carefully try to figure out how long this job you have will last.

Career management is strategy

The problem with career management is that there are no clear goals associated with it. “Find your passion!” “Do the work you love!” “Make your next big career move!”

Meh.

Here’s the Cube Rules definition of career management: work to gain employment security. Having employment security means that you can navigate the treacherous waters of working on the job — even if you are laid off, get a bad manager, your company goes under, or you can’t stand the people you work with and decide to leave you will be able to land that next gig. And, yes, you might find that the work you do is also the work you love, but finding the work you love doesn’t mean you get employment security. Just doing work you love.

Getting to employment security means you need strategy — do you have the right job skills to continue finding work? Do you have the job performance to go along with it to show results? Do you have a business network to tap to know other positions available? Do you know how to do all phases of a job search? And do you have the finances that allows you to take a job that fits your working style and not just any job that comes along?

If you don’t have all those attributes about your career — what I call Employment Security Hierarchy for Cubicle Warriors — you don’t have employment security and you can’t really manage your career.

Jobs are tactical

If you leave school with anything other than a specific degree (like Nursing, or Accounting, or Law), chances are, you took a job from some company that gave you an offer. Now, you might have purposely interviewed with companies that you thought you wanted to work with and later in a career targeted a specific job type, but a lot of job stuff is just…accidental. Your business network tells you of an opening, you’re ticked off at your current manager/company/coworker/working conditions and you go and interview for it. You get the job and that’s that. Right?

But that doesn’t help you get to employment security. It doesn’t even really get you any job security. It’s just another job.

You need the strategy of career management and the tactical jobs to carry out your strategy

Every few months, you need to check the employment security hierarchy to see what you can do in your job to help your quest for employment security. And when you take a job, one of the items for consideration is how that job will help build your employment security.

They go hand in hand.

And you are really going it alone. If you don’t do the strategy and the tactics, no one will do it for you. You don’t think a corporation will do that for you, do you?

  • Rick Saia says:

    Good points Scot! More people – except those nearing retirement – need to think “long term” when they’re in a job search. To that end, they should only see the next job as a step toward the one that comes afterwards. So, they should think about what new skills they can learn and what current skills they can enhance, that they can parlay into another opportunity down the road – whether with the same company or another.

  • […] Career Management is strategy, jobs are tacticsMar 14, 2011 … Career management is how to drive to employment security. Jobs, and what you do in them, are how you get there. Companies won’t help you on … […]

  • […] Career Management is strategy, jobs are tacticsMar 14, 2011 … Career management is how to drive to employment security. Jobs, and what you do in them, are how you get there. Companies won’t help you … […]

  • Kay Riley says:

    Great thoughts Scot!! Unfortunately with the economy being the way it is these days, even highly skilled and educated people are just taking the first job that comes along when they need one. Most people don’t think of the long-term strategy of their job choices. While I can appreciate people needing to work and make money to support themselves, it’s a shame many only look at the short-term (get a job, get paid). Several years later they realize they are in a dead-end job (no security, no skills that will help them move on).

    Thankfully, I have successfully changed career fields twice now. I was able to take previous jobs to build the right kind of job skills (I like to call them “transportable skills”). When looking for a new job I promoted those skills and showcased my successful performance results. I continued to network with people outside the current field I was working in. And when I finally took a job it was because it fit my strategy to have employment security, not just the one that paid the most. Here’s an interesting article about transferable skills: http://career-advice.monster.com/resumes-cover-letters/resume-writing-tips/Change-Careers-Transferable-Skills/article.aspx

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