Cultivating Your Career

By Deborah A. Bailey  |  Posted 2009-04-07

See also: 17 Ways You Undermine Your Own Career

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Where the Jobs Are Now

Career outlooks have gone through a great deal of turbulence in the past year—and there’s more to come. But one thing that’s certain is that the old rules of career management no longer apply. Instead of passively letting things happen to your career, you must take action.

Though there’s a lot of advice available about how to “recession-proof” a job, you’ll be in a much better position if you keep the following three ideas as part of your career strategy.

1 Expand your network. Most jobs are found through networking. By continually in-creasing your network, you’ll ensure that you always have contacts to reach out to when you’re looking for new opportunities. Successful business-people always reach beyond their circle to form meaningful relationships.

If you are building an online network on a social media site such as LinkedIn, focus on the quality of your contacts instead of the quantity. You want to connect with people who will be sources of information and who can introduce you to additional contacts and leads. In addition, in order to be a master networker, you should be willing to reciprocate and share information and introductions when that’s appropriate.

2 Don’t stay in your comfort zone. Admittedly, it’s tempting to rely on past experience and skills and settle into a feeling of security. However, the next new thing is always on the horizon, and if you aren’t always learning, you’re not growing. Longevity in your career depends on being aware of changing conditions—and knowing how to adapt to them.

If you are willing to adapt and grow, you’ll continue to find opportunities to use your skills, knowledge and experience. Don’t ignore changing conditions in the hope that they’ll quiet down or disappear. You’ll only end up in a situation where you’ll be stuck in reaction mode.

3 Keep your focus on the big picture. Stay aware of trends and events that may affect your career. If you’re looking only at news in your company or industry, you’ll have only a partial picture.

Be aware of changes in practices that may affect you in the future. By seeing the big picture, you can play in a bigger game. If you have an understanding of how trends will play out, you can be proactive in building your career and moving forward. That will put you in a better position to make strategic career decisions, as opposed to having no control when the inevitable downturns hit.

Managing your career involves more planning and vision than ever before. If you are proactive in your approach and follow the steps cited above, you will not have to react to economic churns and other events.

People who are willing to adapt—who look beyond what’s happening in their company and industry and who stay connected—will be in a better position to experience continued career growth.

Career and employment coach Deborah A. Bailey of Deb Bailey Coaching in Piscataway, N.J., helps professionals ex-plore their career options and make the best job decisions.