In a previous post, I wrote about author Rita McGrath’s theory of the “transient advantage,” the idea that if you are constantly thinking about what’s next, you’ll be more successful. Everyone should have a reactive and proactive strategy for your next career move.
McGrath provides a great quiz to determine if you are ready for whatever comes next. Her questions provide a pretty good template for a proactive career plan. Here are some ideas to make you more nimble in the face of change (all based on her quiz.)
- I’ve learned a meaningful new skill that I didn’t have before in the last two years, whether it is work related or not. Learning is perhaps the most important skill you can have because it allows you to be more resilient in the face of change. Although I would argue that work-related skills would be the stronger choice, any new mastery gives you confidence and builds your brain’s capacity. Here are some skills in which I think everyone should become competent to be really successful (listed from least to most challenging):
- Setting up strong profiles on social networks
- Installing new software on your PC or Mac
- Setting up a secure home network
- Being conversant in a foreign language
- Coding / programming
- I could name, off the top of my head, at least ten people who would be good leads for new opportunities. Having a strong network means knowing people who can help you with advice and leads. That takes work. You probably have a network of social contacts – friends with who you have things in common and have fun. As you’re budgeting social time, add in time to meet with colleagues in your industry or respected people outside your industry to learn about what’s happening. Be sure to offer your assistance and advice when you can – givers are the among most successful people in any community.
- I have enough resources (savings or other) that I could take the time to retrain, work for a smaller salary, or volunteer in order to get access to a new opportunity. Financial experts recommend having six months of living expenses in savings available in case the worst happens. For the record, I don’t know many people who have this kind of discipline; some of those who did found themselves wiped out during the Great Recession. But now is the time to review your budget and create a savings plan. I’ve spoken to numerous people who have started new ventures or re-invented their lives to be able to accept interesting work that paid less. They all agreed that having money in the bank took away much of their stress during the transition.
- I can make income from a variety of activities, not just my salary. I have written before about the advantage of having a sideline: something that you control and that allows you to bring in income outside of your employer’s wages. When things are tight, you’ll have a resource for more income. It will also help you afford the vacations or big purchases you dream about. Whether you start an actual business venture or turn a hobby into spare cash, it’s a smart move that will improve your liquidity and give you confidence.
What’s your proactive career plan?