The global economy is in flux and the outlook for the future is not as rosy as it has been. Before the inevitable downturn occurs safeguard your career with these strategies.
Be visible — in a good way! When I worked in outplacement a lot of very talented individuals were stunned to find themselves downsized out of a job. Afterall, they kept their heads down, did good work and didn’t cause any trouble. Why weren’t they kept on when their less well-qualified colleagues were? Very often it was because they were not known outside of their immediate circle. Their mistake was keeping too low a profile. As Patty Azzarello writes in her book, “Rise: 3 Practical steps for advancing your career, standing out as a leader and liking your life:” “People with high positive visibility have high credibility, and they get better projects, more resources, more support.”
That translates into more options when the company has to make decisions about who goes and who stays.
Communicate. Feel tongue tied around the big boss? Uncomfortable sharing your ideas at meetings? Reluctant to make small talk at office parties? These seemingly trivial issues can negatively influence the direction of your career. If your confidence is lacking, your visibility is low and your communication skills need work, join Toastmasters or improve your interpersonal and public speaking skills in a class or workshop. Doing so may help you save your job, keep your career on track and shorten your search when the market goes south.
Find a mentor.
Mentors can provide professional guidance, get your name on the promotion list, increase your sphere of influence, and help you avoid costly career plunders.
Some mentor relationships are formal, others informal. Some last years while others may involve a one-time meeting. It is up to you to drive the bus since it is unlikely that a mentor will arrive unannounced on your doorstep. If you don’t seek out a mentor, few are going to volunteer. Mentorship is a two-way street with you doing the heavy lifting. You make the calls, you set up the appointments, you make it easy for your mentor to guide you. And, you express appreciation.
Engage with others. Carve time out of your day to connect with colleagues, have lunch with a friend or be active professionally. If you can manage it, take on a leadership role in an industry or professional association. If your schedule really won’t allow that, at least attend meetings regularly. Even when the guest speaker isn’t your cup of tea, showing up at meetings gives others the chance to know, like and trust you. Besides, you never know who else might show up.
Be solution-focused. Nobody likes a negative Ned. Sure, things could be better, and they could be worse. Before you go to the boss with a problem, research three possible solutions to present for consideration. Your job is to make your boss look good, not bog her down with decisions you should be making. Build your reputation as a problem-solver and there will always be a place for you at the table. If you are not at the table, you are probably on the menu.