Bestselling author Martin Yate, a career coach and former HR professional, takes your questions each week about how to further your career in HR. Contact him at the e-mail address at the end of this column.
Looking forward to an entirely "post-COVID-19 world" might be wishful thinking, as our world is being irreversibly changed by the pandemic. The wave of artificial intelligence and robotics tools that are simultaneously being implemented accelerates the rate of change. There's no turning back.
No one knows just what the workplace will look like in this new world, but we do know that the old advice that told us to get an education, choose a career, work hard and be loyal won't lead to the security and long-term success it once did. If you hope to survive and prosper in the 21st century, you're going to need a significant shift in career management strategy.
The Way Things Are
You are a cog in your employer's moneymaking machine. If you can be replaced by automation or someone who will accept less pay, then you are out of a job.
It's nothing personal; the company is doing what it must to survive. You need to do the same thing: Take control of your career, your economic survival and your life outside of work (which is why we work in the first place).
Act with the same self-interest, forethought and objectivity as a corporation. It's time to start planning and acting with a focus on what's best for you and put your success and happiness at the center of all you do.
Me Inc., the Corporation
Think of yourself as a company—Me Inc., a financial entity that must survive and prosper over the long haul. You have products and services to sell: the skills, experience and credentials you've accumulated over the course of your professional life. Me Inc. sells these services to customers, otherwise known as employers.
Recognizing that you are a company in your own right, you need to organize, plan and execute strategic career management actions with the same objectivity and foresight as your employers use. Organize Me Inc. into similar departmental structuring used by most successful companies. You'll have departments handling these functions:
- Research and development, to identify and develop products and services with the maximum marketplace appeal. In other words, you have to monitor labor market demands and develop the skills employers need, not only now but also as you see market needs changing. This is one of the reasons Society for Human Resource Management chapter meetings are so valuable; they keep you up-to-date on how the profession is changing.
- Marketing and public relations, to establish credibility for the professional services you deliver and ensure this credibility becomes visible to an ever-widening circle. Start with your current department and expand out through the company, your local professional community and beyond as your strategic career plans direct.
- Sales, staying abreast of valid new strategies to sell your products and services, including resume writing, social media profile creation and usage, job search and interview tactics, negotiation, and other career management tools.
- Strategic planning, to plan for earning growth within your current company, time strategic career moves that take you to new employers, monitor the health of your profession and make plans for career change. All of this should happen on a timetable most advantageous to you. Working with research and development and marketing, strategic planning will also monitor opportunities and strategies for the pursuit of new revenue streams—alternate entrepreneurial endeavors that minimize disruption of Me Inc.'s cash flow (to avoid layoffs and job losses) and maximize the odds of success for these endeavors.
- Finance, to ensure you invest wisely in initiatives that will deliver a return on investment. Invest in your future success and make good choices about how to spend your hard-earned income.
Seek out learning and growth activities that will make Me Inc. successful and give you the opportunity for a fulfilling and successful life.
Your Future Is What You Make It
Adopting a more businesslike attitude to your working survival and success makes sense, because it weaves the many issues that impact success, stability and fulfillment into a cohesive approach that will help you navigate the rough waters that we all must pass through in a long career. How well you do it dictates the quality of your life outside of work so that one day you won't have to work at all. You can do it! Believe in yourself.
Have a question for Martin about advancing or managing your career? From big issues to small, please feel free to e-mail your queries to YourCareerQA@shrm.org. We'll only publish your first name and city, unless you prefer to remain anonymous—just let us know.