In the baby boomer era, the myth was “if you are loyal to a company, the company will take care of you.”  Many believed that until they were laid off at 55 after 20 years of service with no good prospect to find work again.  Then for Generation X (people in our late 20s to 30s), it became “if you perform well, you will be rewarded.”  To some extent this is still true until the financial market crashed and even very talented people remain out of work.

So what’s a new motto?  How about this one – If you have portable job skills, you can take control of your career by building  job “security” and freedom.  What do I mean?

  • Portable job skills: Skills that you build at one job that can be applied/utilized/valued in a different job with different responsibilities in a different industry.  For example, people with consulting skills have a fair number of portable job skills.  We know how to do process improvement, facilitate large meetings, manage projects, develop strategy, and build buy-in.  Many consultants go on to have very successful careers in strategy, program management, IT, product management, marketing.   Consultants are not the only ones with portable job skills.   Actually anyone can build portable skills in any job.  You just need perspective.
  • Job “security” –  There is no such thing as true job security these days.  Everyone of us who work for “the man” or “the woman” is just a line item on a spreadsheet – easily deleted if the economy sucks.   So I say don’t rely on companies to provide job security.  If you build portable skills over time, you can always find a company that value those skills.  You just need to know how to position it in your resume and keep an open mind on opportunities that may value those skills.  A good portable job skill is project management.  Every company has projects they need managed.
  • Freedom – Focusing on which portable job skills you want to build in your career can lead to a lot of option and freedom.  For example, a great portable job skill is knowing Paid Search Marketing.  You can pretty much work in any industry, from anywhere because every company values getting high quality leads at a low cost.  You can even work from home and contract.  So it pays to think through which skills you want to build in your career.  It can affect how many options you can have in the long run.

As you assess your career and your next move, think about

  • What portable job skills do you have based on your experience to date?  It’s important to recognize them.  If YOU don’t value them, how can companies value them?
  • What unusual opportunities could be open to you that is outside your typical field or industry but can use your portable skills.  Thinking outside the box can lead to an unexpected job.  A friend just got her business law degree and got a job as an online fraud and copyright analyst  for the hollywood film association.
  • what portable skills do you want to build and what options you want to keep open for yourself.

These are important perspectives as you think about your career.  I look forward to your questions and comments.  Good luck out there

– Lei

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