Laurie Swanson Blog

5 Steps to Remodeling Your Career

A good friend of mine is moving.

She has had her house on the market for a bit.

They’ve lowered the price…twice.

Part of the reason it was not selling, in her opinion, is that they had not spent time and money and effort into keeping things up-to-date.

Ahhh…just like a career can bring less reward if efforts are not being made to keep it up-to-date.

Why Not Update?

I am a technology recruiter and the idea of updating your skills throughout your career is that much more important given the pace at which technology moves.

So why don’t we do it?

Why didn’t she update the tile in the kitchen, add new pulls to her drawers, replace old appliances, change the color on the walls and the window treatments to be more current?

Lazy? Nope.

No Money? Possibly.

Didn’t make the time? Probably.

No plan when she first bought the house? Yes! This was the crux of it all.

Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail

She did not have a plan or maybe her plan was she would take care of things as needed but then when the time came when it would be smart to update, other things took priority. Not a great plan.

Now she will sell her house for less than she might have in a lot longer time-frame than she would have liked.

I see this a lot when I talk to people on a job search.

You graduate from college or trade school and are just excited to have a job. That was your plan.

Or maybe you did have a bigger plan. You figured out what school you were going to go to, what your major was going to be, the classes you were going to take, the companies you were going to interview for and the position you were going to get after graduation.

Then 3-5 years go by and you are cruising along at work. You like your company and they seem to like you. They even offer career planning. Sort of.

The work is challenging at times, interesting on occasion and fun once-in-awhile.

You are getting the small raises and you even may have improved your title.

So, what’s the problem?

Why should you consider spending your hard-earned nights and weekends getting another certification or degree?

Why should you raise your hand to be a part of a project that requires that you travel 50% over the next 6 months and means you might not make all your softball games?

Why seek out a mentor or sponsor and then spend the $5 on Starbucks to talk about your career trajectory when you have someone at work you talk to about this? 

Why? Because you are leaving money, opportunity, new horizons, interesting relationships and fun on the table.

Plus, when it comes time to “sell” yourself to a new employer you won’t be outdated and in need of a serious career repair that could take years.

Your time on the market will be greatly shortened as well.

You will be a hot property! 

Time For a Career Remodel

1.  Dream

When you are making plans to update your kitchen you start with magazines to get some ideas about how you would want your kitchen to look. Same with your career plan. Go online and see what job titles and roles are out there for people who have your basic background. What is being required of the roles you are interested in? What are the futurists saying about trends in your industry?  Make a list of all those things that seem important and intriguing to you. 

2.  Feel

The next step would be to visit some kitchen showrooms. Similarly, how about you take a couple folks to coffee that are in a role you see for yourself moving to next? You could also meet with someone in a role 2 or 3 steps ahead? This helps you start to see and feel yourself in these roles. This is a tremendous fear-removal step. Plus, I have seen this shift a career path because what they found that was ahead of them was not all that appealing. Lots of wasted time and heartache averted.

3.  Figure It Out

If you are going to add a bigger refrigerator what does that mean to your counter space? You need to figure these things out. Heck, what you may find out is all you need to do is simply add a back-splash and your kitchen is in the 21st century. The same is true for a career move. If you are staying with your current employer but planning to have a step-up position then what are the logistics of making that happen? Who should you be talking to? What training or certifications might be required? What if you want to switch companies or industries? Great. Are their particular things unique to your target companies or industries that might be useful to know about if you were to do this?

4.  Get Help

Most of us would not be able to install a new kitchen on our own. We would hire a contractor, electrician, plumber, flooring person, kitchen designer and interior decorator perhaps. We plan to spend some good money updating our kitchen so we want help getting it done right with people who have previous experience in this sort of thing. The same is true with your career. Hire a coach. Get a mentor. Go online or to your local library for tips on how to make this change to a better, new-and-improved career with the least amount of stress and greatest chance of success possible.

5.  Keep It Up

When we moved into our current house one of the first things I did was to find a cleaning service. I know that my kitchen and baths and carpets look as good as they do today because of my cleaning service. Even in the worst of the economic times I figured out a way to keep my cleaning service. That is how important I believe ongoing care is to my home and should be to your career. Attend events, network with people in your space, keep learning through webinars, workshops and classes. Never stop dreaming about what you would like to do next. All the steps become that much easier when you practice step #5.
Are you ready to update your career? Let’s talk.

Laurie Swanson, Career Strategist

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