The current form of career development/management is flawed. First, you discover what work you might like to do and are qualified to do and then you go in search of someone offering a job/needing someone with your skills. Once you settle on a particular line of work, you make the rounds, resume (if not hat) in hand, begging someone to give you a job. It has been this way for centuries, but I think that is exactly the argument for why it shouldn’t be done that way anymore.
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Books by Douglas E. Welch
The power dynamics of the job search need to find a more level playing field. Instead of playing the same old game, workers need to take control and start developing ways of attracting work to them instead of searching for work only when thrown off by unexpected layoffs. By attracting work, you develop the career you want and deserve and help to smooth out the sometimes rocky road of career development. Instead of bouncing from job to job, it can help to ensure that you have a selection of opportunities to choose from and are not forced to take a job simply because it’s the only one you quickly find. You should never feel forced into a job, but that is exactly what happens if you are not developing your own options on a regular basis.
Attracting work to you is a lifelong process and begins the minute you start thinking of a career. For most of us, I would say that probably begins in high school. If we start then, and keep at the process throughout your career, you can have a very successful career no matter where your expertise lies. Attracting work should become an integral part of your life, and not something you only do when forced. While this constant focus on your career may seem more difficult at the start, once established, it makes your life infinitely easier. It will simply become one of those innate actions, like brushing your teeth or paying the bills, that, when done correctly, make life a bit better and easier.
The most important aspect of attracting work to you is this — share your work, your products, your ideas, and your opinions with your friends family online and in person. Your goal for the foreseeable future is to “tell people what you do and how well you do it.” It is a simple fact that you miss out on many opportunities, every day, because those around you have no, clear, idea what knowledge and skills you hold. This isn’t about arrogance or “tooting your own horn” either. It is about informing, in the most basic way, those around you so that when they have a need, it is known that you might be able to help them.
Attracting work to you is possible, no matter where you are in your career. As you work, you will build things, learn things and have feelings about your work and how it might be made better. It is only natural. The next step, though, is sharing that information. Work is an large part of your life so it shouldn’t be a black hole that your friends and family know nothing about. Share what you are doing at work, what you’re accomplishing and what might make it better.
You share this for a number of reasons. First, people can’t know what you don’t tell them. Sometimes, we like to think that the sheer brilliance of our work will speak for itself. It doesn’t always happen that way. Unless we take an active role in promoting our work, most will never hear of us, even if we accomplish important things. By sharing your work, regularly, you place a “bookmark” in people’s minds that they can recall in the future. Perhaps they don’t need an accountant right now, but when they need one in the future, you want your name and your skills, to jump to mind. If you have shared your skills and knowledge, you are improving the odds that that will happen. Place enough of these bookmarks in the minds of enough people and you’re developing a huge resource to call upon in the future. You have prepared that ground so that when you’re ready for that next step in your career, you have already planted the seeds for your next great job.
Placing these bookmarks in people’s minds should become part of your life and daily activities. For me, one of the best ways to accomplish this is through my blogging and associated social media sharing. If you solve a problem in your work, don’t keep it to yourself. Make this knowledge work for you and share it with others. When you share something useful and help someone else, they’re going to remember that. You’ve now made an impression on them, even at a distance. Of course, this also works with in-person relationships. Help out a friend, a family member, or a friend of a friend and you’re making connections that can help you in the future.
Of course, you never know how these connections might help you in the future, but that is what makes these connections even more important. The next big leap in your career could just as easily come from a stranger at your local coffee bar as from a close personal friend. You have no idea who might be helpful so you must develop the most connections you can, both face-to-face and online. In doing so, you are moving the odds in your favor. The more people you know and help, the more likely you will find opportunities with them.
Finally, another great reason for making these connections/placing these bookmarks in people’s minds is because many others are not doing it. They are still stuck in the traditional methods of career building — searching for work instead of attracting it to them. When you spend your time “telling people what you do and how well you do it,“ you are raising yourself above a large amount of the competition. You are going above and beyond their typical methods and, in the best cases, while they are frantically looking for a new job, you will, hopefully, be deciding among many opportunities.