International Talent Management Strategist Dorothy Dalton inspired me with her recent post on surviving long-term unemployment. Her pithy, content-rich article articulated real-life examples of professionals and executives battling extended job loss as well as strategies to stimulate career traction.
Her article spurred me to think about the other side of the job-search coin, the long-term ’employed’ who feel stuck and unable to move up and out of a currently untenable job situation.
Several reasons that the unhappily employed stay stuck come to mind, based on my 16 years’ experience consulting with, coaching and writing resume portfolio strategies for professionals and executives. As such, following are three of the top reasons people remain entrenched at an unsatisfying job along with tips for pulling yourself up by your bootstraps and out of your misery.
Reason #1: Your Plate Is Too Full. Your work schedule is onerous: instead of 8-hour days, you toil through 10- and 12-hour shifts plus some weekends. Ironically, you use this as an excuse to not get traction on a proper job search. Your slivers of unfettered time are reserved for activities with your spouse or kids or friends, and there simply is no time left over to manage this important career-propelling project.
Remedy: Find a way to reprioritize how you invest your time. While you cannot magically create more hours in the day, you can assess and reconfigure your schedule.
It may simply begin by asking your spouse to take over dinner preparation duties for a few weeks, liberating time for you to equip your resume portfolio and netweaving plan. It may also involve bowing out of other regularly planned commitments; e.g., volunteer roles outside your normal working hours, time spent working on a personal project that can wait, and such, for a few weeks or month or more.
It may even require exercising your ‘no’ muscle responding to friends and family invitations. Instead, use that time (and energy) to focus inward on your career introspection and planning.
For business travelers, it may equate to working on your resume brainstorming by plane, by airport lobby and by hotel room.
It may be as simple as turning off your television and reallocating that one-hour of nightly programming to your job search planning.
Whatever it is, you must take existing committed time and transfer your energies away from some of it and apply toward your career planning and movement.
Reason #2. You Don’t Have the Money. How much did you recently invest in that new bedroom set, that resort weekend away, a round of golf, your last visit to the hair salon or the new outfit to wear to your best friend’s daughter’s wedding? What is the cost to your career health when you don’t feed it? A malnourished career does not exude the energy to compete in today’s challenging job-search race.
Remedy: If you feel a career strategist (resume and portfolio writer and/or career coach) is essential to help you gain traction and direction, then allocate financial resources, making your career a priority. If you are out of money and up against a fiscal cliff in you career and life, then consider all of the available resources online, at the library and beyond where you can read and concentrate your efforts on learning how to steer your career ship to the right port. This takes conscientiously investing toward that goal, whether it is time or money. See Tip #1 for how to allocate time for that investment.
Reason #3. You Don’t Have a Clue How to Market Your Value. You feel that your reputation should precede you—marketing is beneath you. Wake up. The old days of quietly doing your job and then being pulled up the career ladder through hard-work initiative are over. It’s certainly more of a latticework, free agent business environment now, and you must continually and creatively be navigating. The job boards are full of inane, bland and copycat resumes that don’t compel the hiring decision makers to call you.
If you are lucky enough to have someone request your resume, providing a worn out document will not impress. In fact, it may even repeal some of the qualifications they had envisioned you offered.
Remedy: If you truly want to pilot your career ship, you must be proactive and differentiating. This means having a contemporary, focused and interesting resume story, cover letter, biography and LinkedIn profile already on hand versus waiting until someone requests them. By then, it’s too late, and whatever documents or profiles you whip together will pale in comparison to your competitors’.
As well, you must continually be engaging with, offering support to and providing overall value to others to ensure you have people you can call upon to support your initiatives when needed. In addition to offline activities, this means identifying a couple of social networks that you have an affinity with and being vigilant about adding value now, before you begin job searching. Pragmatically weave in who you are, and make it easy for folks to connect with you.
While job searching sounds rigorous and painful, career management is lifelong and empowering. You can get unstuck, beginning today with one simple step: Join Twitter or begin refreshing your LinkedIn profile. Dust off your resume and start brainstorming your achievements. Research and write out your target goals. Tell someone you know that you are actively job searching.
Just get started.