career management, Careers, Personal Branding

Take Control of Your Career

Mary Rosenbaum | October 15th, 2009

Although 2009 experienced the highest unemployment numbers in decades, the latest figures indicate that layoffs are still continuing. You may be thinking that since you made it through the last year and a half you are safe. But the reality is that now is the time to make sure that you have a hand in controlling your own destiny.

What do I mean by that? First, it’s important to make sure that those people that make decisions related to salary, promotion, hiring or firing know of your unique value added. Second, this is an ideal time to identify ways for you to grow and progress professionally. In other words, it’s time to manage your career.

These are some things you can do to ensure that you not only stay employed but that you continue to grow as well as put the best “you” forward.

1. In addition to staying current in your field, you should try to stay a step ahead by anticipating what new tools and knowledge can improve your performance, and enhance your resume. Check out courses you can take or certifications that might enhance your resume as well as your performance on the job.

2. Don’t wait for new projects to find you. Create new ways for you to contribute to your company’s success/bottom line. By showing your creativity you will be building your own net worth and social capital (you make your boss look good if you look good).

3. Try to identify what differentiates you from the person sitting directly behind you. What is your unique value to the firm, your added value that affects the bottom line of your company? This is your brand differentiation and why you will retain your position while those around may not. This is when you take stock of what you do well, what motivates you, and how you can capitalize on your strengths while building your own personal brand.

4. Make sure those who have the power know your unique value. It’s hard to cc the big boss on all your emails, but it might be possible for you to volunteer for a project that puts you in closer proximity where she/he can see you in action as well as hear of your successes. Attend meetings or speaking engagements where the power people congregate and network with them before and after these events. The idea is for them to know your name, what you do, and ultimately what your unique value is to the firm.

5. Maintain a positive can do attitude at work. When times are uncertain and there are empty desks around you, it’s only natural to feel somewhat unhappy or depressed. Don’t let that sadness creep into your everyday work life. A positive attitude makes work easier, more fun, is infectious, and makes those observing you think well of you.

These recommendations will serve you well. I have had clients tell me that work seems more interesting as they try to grow their own areas of expertise. Additionally, focusing on their own strengths and motivations they realize what their unique value is and develop greater confidence at work. Make this time productive and stay in control of your career.