Tuesday, May 15, 2012

How to Be a Proactive Manager of Your Own Career

The dictionary defines the word proactive as preparing for an expected occurrence or potential negative situation. It goes on to say that being proactive is to initiate change rather than react to events. I know so many people who have been negatively affected by the job market. Whether they are laid off, let go, or find themselves underemployed, the common theme is that every one of these people have found themselves unprepared. Heck, even my own husband did not have his resume updated when he was laid off in 2008 - and we both know better!

Life gets busy, we get caught up in everyday living, and forget to take control of our own destinies. Here are some ways that you can proactively take charge of your career path and make sure that you are prepared for any eventuality.

Always Keep Your Resume Current and Updated
Being laid off is a very stressful time. Most people want to immediately get back into the market as soon as they find out their job has been eliminated. This is very difficult to do if your resume is out-of-date. If you have not updated your resume in several years, chances are the style of the resume itself is outdated.

Another incentive to keep your resume updated is that it is very challenging to remember what you did three years ago when you go to write a resume after a layoff. However, if you have kept the resume current with accomplishments and contributions you make - as you make them - your resume stays current and accurate.

Keep Your Knowledge, Skills, and Certifications Current
Often, when we get comfortable in our jobs, we neglect our education and professional development. I urge you to keep pursuing education and certifications as your industry changes and grows. You will be much more marketable if you have current skills. Demonstrate that you keep up with industry trends by showing that you have maintained current training. It does not have to cost an arm and a leg, just a class, a seminar, or attendance at an industry conference annually is enough to keep you sharp.

Diversify Within Your Career Field
My husband is a civil engineer. When he was laid off in 2008, he specialized in designing master planned communities. When the construction market in our state hit the skids, no one wanted his skills because they were looking for someone with municipal project and highway experience. It took him almost two years to land a good job in his industry and he still has not returned to his previous salary.

The moral of his story is that you should try to avoid getting pigeon-holed. Of course it is good to have a specialty, just make sure you cross-train and gain exposure to new ways to apply your skills and knowledge. The more diverse your knowledge, the more marketable you become.

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