'The best place to find a helping hand
is at the end of your arm.'
'Even if you're on the right track,
you'll get run over if you just sit there.'
You can enhance you value
in the marketplace.
HEREVER you are in the corporate hierarchy, you're not secure. Given the
rapidly changing economic environment and its impact on business, there's
no longer any security in working for an organisation, large or small.
A lifelong job with one company has become history.
The only job security you're going to find is
that which resides in you: your ability to respond to change quickly. And
how adept you are at selling your abilities.
If you get axed, you'll find the job market tough. And with the
way the business world is moving, it's going to get a lot tougher as more
and more people are retrenched. My next story illustrates what it's already
like 'out there'.
A young guy and his girlfriend were involved in a particularly vindictive
lover's tiff on the bridge over the swiftly flowing Vaal River. 'That's it.
I'm going to end it all,' he cried. With that he climbed on to the parapet
of the bridge.
'I'm going to jump I don't want anyone to save me,' he said as he
leapt into the water.
Another young bloke, who had witnesses the drama, dived in after
'I said I didn't want to be saved,' cried the floundering young
'Don't worry,' said the other bloke, 'I don't want to save you.
Just tell me where you work.'
So what can you to protect yourself?
THINK OF YOURSELF AS SELF-EMPLOYED
Play 'pretend'. Pretend you're contracted to provide your services to your
present employer for a limited period. Pretend you may have to sell your
services elsewhere a few months down the line.
This means a drastic change in mindset. You'll have to cultivate a new mental
outlook. As of this minute you must:
- Take personal responsibility for your career development. Start
thinking like an entrepreneur. In other words look at the broad picture -
don't focus too narrowly on job functions and specifics. If you do, you're
in danger of being overwhelmed by the wood at the expense of being oblivious
to the trees.
- Become a student of change. Read broadly about general business
and economic issues to ensure that you know which way the wind is blowing.
- Make change work for you, not against you. Be on the ball so
you can exploit opportunities as soon as they emerge.
- Prepare yourself now for a change in career. Don't be ashamed
of being labelled 'a job-hopper'. In the new business age, most people will
change careers at least seven times.
You must also ...
LEARN TO MARKET YOURSELF
To find out your value in the market and how you can enhance it, follow my
- How to determine your worth 'out there'.
- How you can increase your value.
- What you need to enhance your worth.
- Send your CV out.
- What else you can do .
HOW TO DETERMINE YOUR WORTH 'OUT THERE'.
Nothing lasts forever. Not even your job. Sooner or later you're
going to vacate your desk, either forcibly or voluntarily.
You can make the situation a lot less traumatic by getting yourself
ready now to go job hunting or, perhaps, go it alone.
- STEP 1. Reach for a sheet of paper and jot down anything
that will enhance your chance of getting a job: your qualifications, experience
and special expertise are 'musts'.
- STEP 2. Scan the newspapers as well as financial and trade
publications for job vacancies in your area of expertise. Note what people
'out there' are paying for people like you. And check out what qualifications
they demand. This should give you a panoramic overview of what you're worth
in the employment market.
- STEP 3. Now zoom in for a more detailed view by throwing
yourself at the mercy of a human resources consultant who specialises in
your area of expertise.
HOW YOU CAN INCREASE YOUR VALUE.
Your investigation of the job market will highlight several important
- the strength of demand for the services you can provide;
- what you can expect to earn by providing those services, and
- how your qualifications and experience measure up with job market
Because of the rapidity of change in business techniques and technology,
you're likely to find that your qualifications have become encrusted with
a veneer of rust.
Upgrade them. Continuously.
Become a lifelong learner
Acquire skills that you may not need in your present job, but which
will increase your value in the job market. I know an electrical engineer,
for example, who studied marketing, advanced bookkeeping and industrial relations
practice to increase his value should he be forced to seek other employment
or branch out on his own.
ENHANCE YOUR WORTH.
Good references from anybody who's anybody are useful. Superb references
from employers past and present carry more weight in the job market that
a glowing testimonial from your high school headmaster. Recognised certificates
and diplomas from centres of tertiary education attest to your professional
competence. But best of all: hordes of delighted customers who testify
to the excellence of your service.
Genuine letters of appreciation from customers for jobs well done
impress everyone. So, beginning today, start collecting them. If you've more
than satisfied your customers, few will refuse to put their feelings in writing.
Cherish these letters. In a job seeking context, they're like gold.
SEND YOUR CV OUT.
Even if you have no intention of leaving your present job, circulate
your CV. But make sure it's up-to-date. In addition to your qualifications
and employment history, it should contain details of unusual or difficult
projects in which you played a major role.
The purpose of sending your CV to potential employers listed in
your contact list is simply to let them know that you're still around.
It also serves to keep them informed about what you've been doing
since you were last in contact.
Circulating your latest CV is an insurance policy that could stand
you in good stead if you get the chop during a company downsizing blitz.
ESTABLISH WHAT YOU CAN DO.
To ascertain you real worth, actually apply for jobs. Attend interviews.
This will put your value to your present employer in true perspective. It
will also paint you an accurate picture of the job market.
And there's something else you can do.
You can investigate the possibility of going it alone.
The way the world of business is moving, the age of job security
is fast drawing to a close. Permanent positions are difficult to find now.
They'll be even more scarce in the future.
Draw up a strategic employment plan for yourself to cover, say,
the next three years. Decide what new skills you intend to acquire during
this period. And, in the light of your job market intelligence gathering,
what of your existing skills you need to upgrade.
Market yourself. Because if you don't, nobody else will.
Even if you're currently employed, think like an entrepreneur. In
a job context, the only one you owe loyalty to is yourself. Your boss pays
you for your knowledge and what you do for him. When he doesn't need you
anymore, he'll cast you aside like an old shoe.
You owe it to yourself...
IMPROVE YOUR MARKETABLE SKILLS