It's hard to believe over 20 years have gone by since I graduated college. Life was simpler then. Al Gore hadn't invented the Internet yet so there was no email and “social media” referred to the local gathering places where people spoke to one another in person.
The formula for career success was simple too. Passed down from our Baby-Boomer parents “the formula” went something like this:
“Get good grades, go to college, get a good job, then live happily ever after”.
Or something like that. Times have certainly changed.
THE FORMULA FOR CAREER SUCCESS HAS CHANGED
The career formula worked great for our parents when company “loyalty” was in full swing. Being employed at one company for life wasn't uncommon. No one worried about layoffs or downsizing.
I followed this formula for 20 years. It worked well. I went to college and got a good job. There I found human resources (HR) professionals who helped guide me on my career path.
I thought I would be there forever.
Then the company shut down. I got another good job. I watched the company outsource its work. I watched co-workers get laid off.
The notion of lifetime employment and company loyalty started to fade for me. The HR professionals who helped plot my course began to focus on “talent acquisition” vs. “talent development”.
And that's probably the biggest lesson I've learned from the collapse of the career success formula.
No one is going to guide your career.
You're on your own.
This is a good thing. Without someone telling you which position to take or crafting career moves for you, you can now decide what you want to do. You can change your career.
5 TIPS FOR CAREER SUCCESS FOR GENERATION X
1 – Take charge of your career
In today's work environment, it's fair to say company loyalty is gone and with it, your career roadmap. This is actually a good thing. If you've discovered you don't like your accounting job after 20 years, you can leave it. If your ideal position doesn't exist, you can create it.
Take advantage of today's technology to rebuild your career to your liking.
2- Know your brand
Defining your brand is different than branding yourself. Defining your brand means taking a good hard look at the person in the mirror. Understand what you are good at and what makes you tick.
Accounting may be what you are paid to do but it may not align with who you are. In which case you’re probably miserable. I've seen this time and again. Good smart people in roles they are not wired internally to do.
Take some time and consider the tasks you enjoy performing. Once you've identified the task you excel at use this knowledge as criteria to evaluate your current or even future jobs.
Aligning who you are with what you do is powerful and can be life changing.
3 – Own your domain
I mean this literally and figuratively. You are an expert at something. After 20 years in the workforce, you have knowledge others don't, knowledge companies or individuals will pay you for but not if they don't know you have this knowledge.
For them to find out and for you to be discovered you need to leverage your knowledge online.
Purchase your domain, create a website and start blogging. Write about your experiences and demonstrate your expertise in your niche. Share with the world who you are and how you add value.
In this way you are building an audience, growing your reputation and getting closer to being paid what you're worth.
4 – Get involved with social media
To ignore social media today is the equivalent of saying to the world you're complacent and unwilling to learn new things. Social media is how the world turns today and it is quickly becoming the way business is done.
By “opting out” you will be viewed negatively by recruiters, potential employers and maybe even your next boyfriend or girlfriend.
Instead of ignoring social media embrace the opportunities that come with being active in social media. Find like-minded people and engage with them. Share your thoughts, ideas and most importantly listen.
We can all learn something from each other. But as you get involved with social media remember social media is a conversation, not a conversion.
Don't be an Ask-Hole as Mark Babbitt would say.
5 – Stop making excuses and just start
It makes sense that in order to break away from the formula of old, you must stop making excuses and get started. Most Generation Xer’s I meet would like to start steps one through four but don’t think they have enough time.
I thought that way as well. Then I met Joseph Michael.
I interviewed Joseph Michael on my podcast and he said something I will never forget and has changed my way of thinking forever when it comes to our common excuse of not having enough time.
“That time that you think you don’t have is going to pass anyway, so create a situation for yourself where you say you’re glad you did instead of you wish you would have.”
GenX has been called the forgotten generation. Let’s prove “them” wrong. Take charge of your career. Embrace new technologies and leverage them to your advantage.
More than anything else, you do have the time so stop making excuses and just start.