Photo by Author
We were on ATV’s riding around the country-side. It was brutally hot!!! In fact, I have never been more hot in my life! … Even the water buffalo were cooling off. We stopped to take a brief break and drink some water in the middle of several rice paddies – bone dry at this time of year and dusty too! The trail we were riding was somewhat like a divider between a couple of the rice paddies (kinda like a “causeway”). While drinking water and stretching my legs, I wondered around a bit and saw this water buffalo cooling off in the water.
The water buffalo and rice paddies are symbols of work. The water buffalo is a beast of burden so to speak and the rice paddies are a means of food that require (at least in this region) significant manual labor. In the end, the hard work returns a yield, a harvest and, ultimately, food and nourishment.
This article is for those who work in a traditional sense – meaning you are paid to do something (whether it’s with your brain, hands, or both doesn’t matter). The statistics overwhelming indicate that at any given time, a large percentage of the workforce is looking for another job. Even those who have a job and are well-paid. Why? Because the majority of people don’t quit their job, they quit their boss. Yes, I know this isn’t true in all economies and it depends upon many factors. But in first-world countries with healthy economies, people have choices. And they’re looking. … Are you?
For years, people have asked me about the job market and how difficult it is to find a job. I think some of the data and conclusions are a bit misleading. I think it’s easy to get a job. What! I hear you say. Yes, easy for some people. Some professions are easier than others but more often than not, I find that the individual is artificially restricting themselves. They want a job in a certain industry with a certain company in a certain field with a specific salary with this and with that. Know what I mean?
I’m going to suggest that it’s important to be prepared to find and secure a job if circumstances require. Regardless of whether you plan to remain in your current job for another twenty years or you’re currently looking for a new job, the world-class leader knows there are best practices to keep you sharp and ready should you need to enter the job market. Maybe you won’t need them, but it won’t hurt to be prepared will it?
Here are my 9 best practices:
- Continued education – pick a field that has a healthy demand outlook and then continually educate yourself via books, professional seminars, new projects/responsibilities, getting a mentor, webinars, courses, etc. … Note: if you don’t know how to continually educate yourself, drop me an email and I’ll help clarify. The means to continually educate yourself is at an all-time high.
- Constraints – don’t overly constrain yourself. Or if you do, at least be aware what you’re doing. For example, the more restrictions you put on your geography, the fewer opportunities there will be (even in the same company).
- Technical AND people skills – yes, continually develop your technical skills but please, please, please develop and hone your people skills, your emotional intelligence. I cannot stress this enough.
- Global outlook – as I’ve mentioned in previous articles, expand your horizon. Be a student of the world. Look beyond one country and one region.
- Network – even the introvert can benefit from networking. Don’t panic, there are many ways of network and not all of them are intimidating. Get to know others in your industry and outside your industry. In your field and outside your field.
- Skills – develop new skills. Take a certification program. Take a course outside your field. Take courses in your field. Go deep or go broad. Or both. But don’t rot on the couch.
- Expectations – set high job goals but also be realistic. Don’t expect to be a member of the executive team right out of the university. Think I’m kidding? I’m not. I’ve seen recent college graduates who come to work for a new company and expect to be a senior executive within a year.
- Attitude – develop and daily work on your attitude/character. Develop a great reputation. Have a can-do attitude. Don’t be overly negative. Etc. etc. Note: again, if you need help with more specifics, email me.
- Excellence – excellent in results (and behaviors) in your current job cannot be overemphasized. So many people are looking ahead at the next job, they fail to give 100% to their current job (and no, there isn’t 110%! 100% means 100%, your all; there’s nothing left – humor intended)
Bonus: In some cultures “ambition” has become a negative word, I don’t agree. If the motivation is wrong, then it’s negative. But if your motivation is good and honorable, ambition is good. So is hunger, drive and fire-in-the belly. Be proactive and driven to make good things happen. Deliver results. Love people. Make a difference.
What are you doing to retain your edge? To be your best? To remain a hot commodity in the job market?
As always, the floor is open to your comments, suggestions, thoughts, and feedback.
Dr. Robert Gerwig is an agent of change and is able to balance the needs of the business and the needs of people. Dr. Gerwig believes and practices the values of performance and delivery of business metrics while simultaneously developing and growing people into leaders. You can contact him at RobertGerwig[at]LeadStrategic.com.