Still Falling for the Two Biggest Career Motivators?

Posted on November 13, 2013. Filed under: Career Management | Tags: , |

career advancementIn a prior post called “Is Your Career Ruled by Rules,” I talked about the self-imposed structure that many professionals have when it comes to their careers. Within that post, I also touched on how many of our rules come out of what motivates us, consciously or subconsciously.

I work with all kinds of IT and technical professionals on a daily basis, from self-assured to humble to ambitious to cautious to seasoned to entry level, and when we discuss the paths their careers have taken, there are two things that underlie the majority of career decisions they have made.

Number One: Fear

We don’t often like to use the word, so we’ll call it something else: “concern,” “lack of security,” “life changes,” “obstacles,” “challenges,” etc. But at the heart of it is, well, fear. Fear that we will lose our current position, fear that we will be stuck in the same position in 5 years, fear that we will never reach our goals, fear that we aren’t as successful as we thought we would be, fear that our boss or company does not recognize our potential, fear that the job market or economy will cause us to lose our position.

All of these fears are very real and valid.

Number Two: Necessity

Related to fear, necessity is more like the fears realized. The position is terminated, the economy tanks, the boss passes you over. When these things happen, then necessity takes over and we are forced to act.

Now, none of us likes fear, and necessity rarely feels good when it happens, but we can probably all look back on at least some instances in our lives when one or both of these things has occurred, and the motivation they sparked in us resulted in something positive: a better position, a higher pay, etc. In other words, what was meant for bad, turned into something good…even if we didn’t appreciate going through it at the time.

But Fear and Necessity Don’t Have to Be the Only Motivators

I find what really separates most professionals as they move along in their careers, though, are the ones who learn to stay motivated without the need for constant fear and necessity. And unfortunately these people are few and far between. Although most of us know what we “should” be doing to stay on top of our career management, very few of us actually do it because, well, nothing is “forcing” us to do it and we’d rather invest the time and resources into other things.

That’s understandable, right?

Sure, but it’s not necessarily logical. You’ve given yourself an excuse to put it off because you don’t have to do it right now, but you’ve ignored the reason you shouldn’t.

Give Yourself a Reason AND an Excuse

Wisdom comes in using experience to help chart a better course. If you know from experience how difficult that last job search was or how much you really need your current position, then doesn’t it stand to reason that you would be more motivated to stay on top of your career advancement today?

Do you really need to wait until the fear becomes so great and necessity is looming?

So What Should You Be Doing?

  1. Maximize your potential with your current engagement: Are you tracking and building a project highlights portfolio? As I mentioned in an earlier post (“The Era of Promotions Will Return“), internal promotions will be on the rise within the next few years and the competition will be tight. It’s tough to go back and remember. You need to be documenting now.
  2. Position yourself to attract recruiters now BEFORE you need them: Recruiters will not admit it, but they much prefer to chase you rather than the other way around. They like finding hot prospects they can “steal” away from competitors. Remember, you can always turn them down…so why miss out on potential opportunities? Isn’t it nice to be wanted for a change?
  3. Begin building a network pipeline: In the world of online businesses, content marketing is key right now. And “engagement” is the word of the hour. Professionals need to take some tips from this world. Are you referable? If so, does your network show that? And I am not just talking about LinkedIn recommendations and endorsements…have you built a credible online brand? It’s better to consider these things NOW before you need them…because you will need them…the job market is changing, and social recruiting is here.
Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )

You Don’t Have to Be Corporate to Work Here, But It Helps

Posted on October 10, 2013. Filed under: Career Management, Job Market Trends | Tags: , , , |

Career AdvancementIt’s a pretty pessimistic world these days. And although some forecasters see bright skies coming up over the job market horizon, others see only gloom mixed with a little doom. So, clearly, it depends on whom you talk to and on the worldview or outlook you’ve decided to go with. (Like most things, it’s less about the overall job market and more about your market as industries shift; for instance, if you are in healthcare IT right now, you most likely have a rosier view than others.)

And in the midst of all this chatter, you may have noticed that the word “corporate” has taken on an ugly connotation in today’s world of work, perhaps even uglier than in times past.

The basic gist of the discussion is as follows:

Large corporations are bad, corporate leaders are bad, traditional corporate organizational structures are bad, the corporate job market is bad.

It’s all just bad. Bad, bad, bad.

In many ways, it reminds me of the angst felt by blue-collar workers after the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, only now it is suburban-educated/raised yuppies with college degrees upset by their unfair working conditions (“Death to the corporate cubicle!” and “Silos are so unfair!” are mantras that light up Twitter chats. Of course, nothing does so more than “Why doesn’t my boss care more about my happiness?”).

Let’s face it, though. Hating your boss is anything but a new concept. (Historically, when unemployment goes down, so does the image of “corporate.” There’s really nothing new under the sun, after all.)

And who can really argue that bosses, and thereby corporations, don’t deserve at least some of this enmity? I mean they are out for themselves, after all…

But lately it has been especially easy to “hate”…because, well, it is all bad…right?

Baby Boomers aren’t retiring fast enough. The economy is uncertain on a good day. The job market is at a standstill. And adulthood is being forever delayed.

If that isn’t bad enough, companies just keep raking in the money, or so it seems, or worse, they keep hoarding it. And even though they are spending more time, money, and resources than ever on contemplating employee happiness, no one is fooled, especially my ever-vigilant Twitter friends.

I mean, if ever there were a time for “power to the people” it should be now, right?

Well, good luck with that.

It may make for good social media chatter, but it rarely makes its way into real application.

Why? Because lost in the passionate outrage is the definition of what is a corporation: a group of people all working toward one goal…to sell a particular product or service and to sustain it. In other words, there’s no more “power to the people” than in the corporate environment…at least in theory.

What causes the friction is that not all parts of that power have an equal say or reap the same benefits.

And if you look at it logically, they shouldn’t. The risks, rewards, liabilities, efforts, etc. are not, and will not be, the same.

I hear a lot of chatter across social media that Gen-Xers and Millennials are going to do something different. That they are going to tear down walls and redefine the corporate environment. Sure, they are. That is, at least until they become the “establishment.” (I’m not sure progressive HR programs count as “different” anymore than listening tours or offices without walls are. Changing the package does not change the product.)

See, right now, it is easy to be upset, but what about when internal promotions start heating up? And they will (see my article “The Era of Promotions Will Return: Will You Be Ready?“). Within the next 2 to 5 years, we will see Baby Boomers exiting the market in larger numbers. As a group, they can only hold out for so long. Then all those Gen-Xers who have been frustrated with a stalled career will have to decide how they feel about corporate leadership now, not to mention all those professionals who decided to strike out as independent contractors. It’s a great gig if you can get it, but sustaining it for 10, 15, 20 years is not as easy as the advice columns make it sound.

And what about all those startups that won’t be startups anymore? Either they will or will not be an established business by then. And, really, isn’t their ultimate goal to become, well, profitable…really profitable? So who stays and who goes then? And how is power distributed…equally?

The point is that it’s not “corporate” that is so bad. It’s the general unfairness of life that is.

The question is what you are going to do about it?

Are you going to be ready to read the market and roll with it? Will you be poised for the promotion, or will you still be hanging out on Twitter railing against the “man?”

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Liked it here?
Why not try sites on the blogroll...

%d bloggers like this: