When was the last time you kicked the tires on your career?
by John Thompson
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Topics: Career Advice
by John Thompson
John Thompson, aka Mr. T.
I mean a real self-reflective experience. If it’s any consolation, probably 90 percent of the workforce hasn’t done it either, but that is no badge of success. In fact, as a member of the TCU tribe, that is pretty much unacceptable. Yes, a daily routine can bring contentment, but are you having fun and feeling like you are doing something fulfilling? Most of us don’t think about change until disaster strikes or real boredom sets in.
With all the fad fitness and wellness plans out there, think about one that not everyone is trying: The Career Fitness Plan. Yes, it has timelines and measurables and takes a lot of discipline. (Bad word, but stay with me.) This is not a fake question about where you want to be in five years or the outline of your 25-year career road map. This is about a real examination of where you are and what your skill sets are in your current position.
So, how do you know if you need to do a little career remodeling? One sign might be if you feel stuck. Question: Does what you are doing match your needs and interests? Do you know what your job needs are? Hint: respect, challenging, relationships, communication. Do you know your interests? Hint: travel, change of scenery, people. List what you have currently and then list what you want.
Another sign of a need to update your career is when you let your personal brand expire. You are known for your skill set and the roles you have played. Yet, have you tried to describe who you are at work? Salesman, accountant, analyst.
Where does it say in your self-description that you are energetic and have acquired new skills or made some terrific achievements? How are you communicating these things to your bosses and colleagues? Hint: Keep a list of things you have worked on and are working on, along with your objectives, skills and the abilities you are improving.
The last sign of a need for an update is your professional network. Networks get abandoned because it takes real effort to maintain them, and with all the other demands on your time, this is the one that gets shorted. Look at this way: You get laid off and you start reaching out to your network, some of whom you haven’t contacted in years. When you make the contact, are they going to say: “You need me now? Really?” You need a network and the network needs you.
By the way, Facebook is not a network. You need to talk and interact with folks. Take your significant other or get a small group of friends together and spend a day or two just kicking around life stuff and what each of you wants for your career. If you have never had the conversation, now is the time to start.
Q. I know it might sound old-fashioned, but I really want to make a difference where I work. I see so many people just putting in their time and complaining about everything. I am just not that way. How can I make a difference?
A. A really great question, and one more people are beginning to ask as they see the deterioration of civility in the workplace. The answer: Do good. It becomes your personal brand and that should include words that describe you, such as kindness, gentleness, dedicated, committed, selfless and does the right thing. How do you do this? Stay late and help a colleague complete a project that isn’t yours. Talk to her boss about how your co-worker did such an outstanding job. Offer help and encouragement to the new employee. Send thank you notes to people who do you a kindness. This is all simple stuff you learned in kindergarten to get along. Funny how it still works and it doesn’t cost a dime. You will make a difference. Thanks for making my day.
Send your career questions to email@example.com.
John Thompson is executive director of TCU’s Center for Career and Professional Development. For more information, visit careers.tcu.edu.
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