Facing the facts of life
You are somewhere along the path of what will likely be a fifty-year work-life, and during this time you can expect economic recessions to swing by every 7–10 years.
You will change jobs (not always by choice) about every four years, and you will probably have three or more distinct careers over the span of your professional life.
This adds up to twelve or more job changes over fifty years, about half of them happening in good economies and half in times of economic downturn, and with three of them involving the much greater challenges and financial dislocation associated with changing, not just your job, but your entire career.
What you can do about them
You live at a time when change is constant, a given in your professional life. This means a successful career no longer comes guaranteed with the purchase of your college diploma. You have to learn to live with change and adapt to the needs of a constantly shifting professional landscape. Take responsibility for your professional destiny now and you will be positioned to seize the abundant opportunities that accompany a changing of eras. Take responsibility and you can change your situation today, and your tomorrows forever.
The most critical professional survival skill
Given that you have the requisite technical skills for your job, the most important skills you can ever develop for your economic survival in this world are job search and career management skills. When a company dispenses with your services, it’s nothing personal: the company is doing what it must do to survive and satisfy the shareholders. This is a valuable life lesson: take control of your life, your economic survival, and your success by acting with the same forethought, objectivity, and self-interest as a corporation.
Welcome to Me, Inc.
It’s time to get serious about guiding the trajectory of your life, and you need to begin by thinking of yourself as Me, Inc., a financial entity that must always act in the interests of its economic survival. Like any corporation, Me, Inc. has products and services to sell: the ever-evolving skill-bundles that define the “professional you.” And just like any corporation, these products and services are branded and sold to your targeted customer base: employers who hire people like you.
The success of Me, Inc., representing the financial stability and fulfillment of your life, will depend on how well you run your company. You will greatly improve your odds of success if you emulate the behavior of successful companies: to do this just establish ongoing initiatives for Research and Development, Strategic Planning, Marketing & Public Relations, and Sales.
The five foundations for your professional success
- Research and Development: Every corporation invests in the ongoing identification and development of products and services that will appeal to its customers. For Me, Inc. this translates into skill-building in response to market trends, which you do by connecting to your profession and by monitoring the changing market demands for your job on an ongoing basis.
- Marketing and Public Relations: The effective branding of Me, Inc. as a desirable product requires establishing credibility for the services you deliver and positioning those services so that your professional credibility becomes visible to an ever-widening circle, both within a company—to encourage professional growth—and within your profession—to encourage your employability elsewhere.
- Sales: Me, Inc. needs a state-of-the-art sales program to constantly develop new strategies to sell your products and services. This will include resume, job search, interviewing, negotiation, and other career management skills that must be developed to sell your products and services effectively.
- Strategic Planning: This encourages you to create concrete plans to achieve the goals you have for your future: plans for growth with your current employer, plans to time strategic career moves that take you to new employers or new professions. Creating actionable strategies for the realities of your professional future enables you to make your plans happen on your timetable and not as a panicked reaction to unforeseen employment disruptions.
- Finance: Treating personal finance more seriously will ensure you invest wisely in initiatives that will deliver a return on investment. You must invest in your future success rather than fritter away your income on the instant gratification drummed into your head by 24/7 media.
Do it now
You have been raised to be a good consumer and to live in debt. The NY Times believes you spend eight hours a day in front of a screen, and researchers estimate you absorb up to 3,000 advertising messages a day. To make your dreams come true, you have to break free of this indoctrination and invest yourself, your time, and your income in the activities that will make Me, Inc. successful and give you the opportunity for a fulfilling life.