Protect Your Career: Stay Informed

    May 29, 2019

    By Kate Wendleton

    Bob Dylan had it right when he wrote, "The times, they are a-changin'." No matter who you are-your industry, profession, and organization are in a constant state of flux. And if you're not keeping up, you may find yourself on the outside looking in. Kate Wendleton, president of the career counseling group The Five O'Clock Club explains how to stay employed by staying informed.... If you want to keep your job, it’s no longer good enough to simply do your job and do it well. Your organization is changing, your industry is changing and your profession is changing. If you want to protect your career, you have to keep up with developments in all those areas. Are you “in the loop” within your company? Are you a member of the appropriate professional organizations? Many people join professional associations. But to succeed you’ve got to pay attention to your industry and your employer in addition to your profession.

    Here are some tips for protecting your career:

    • Keep up with major trends affecting your industry by reading industry trade journals and joining industry associations. Then make a list of those key trends and how they might affect you or your department.
       
    • Keep up with the major trends affecting your employer. Read all of the organization’s press releases and note any mentions in the press. Study the company’s Website and annual report. Pay attention to what your executives say publicly as well as internally. Do a Google News search for your organization and see what you find. You will be better informed and be able to work more effectively toward your own and your organization’s goals.
       
    • Here’s an even better way to get tuned in: schedule a monthly lunch with someone in a different functional area or division. If you are in marketing, get together with someone in finance, for the sole purpose of better understanding the trends in your organization. If everyone in your company did this, communication would be improved across the organization—a win/win for both you and the organization.
       
    • While you keep up with trends in your profession, always keep your employer in mind. Organizational problems are your problems. For example, if your employer is concerned about turnover, or reducing costs, you should share those concerns. Think about what you can do about the situation.
       
    • Share information on trends that may impact your organization. Notice if your department or division is being bypassed on developments that are critical—for example, if you are in HR and you see that consulting firms specializing in the outsourcing of HR are selling to the CFO and CEO and you aren’t being consulted.

    Your field is changing. Accounting changed with Sarbanes-Oxley. IT (Information Technology) used to be a back office function; now it’s a key player many industries. HR jobs have become more metrics- and strategy-oriented, and less transactional. Whatever your field, it is changing—and you’d better keep up with those changes. If you are a department or a division head and people are not calling you about strategy issues, you are not a player.

    In our book, Navigating Your Career: Develop Your Plan, Manage Your Boss, Get Another Job Inside, we outline a strategy—the “Seven Stories Exercise”—to help you understand what you enjoy doing and the elements you need in a job to be satisfied and successful. We also suggest that you formulate 15- and 40-year visions to determine where you want to go so that you can accept assignments that fit in with your vision and move you toward your goal. You should also formulate an “eight-word message” to let those above you in the organization know how valuable you are.

    Remember: to advance your career, you must be proactive.

    To learn more about The Five O’Clock Club please visit www.FiveOClockClub.com

    About the Author(s)

    Kate Wendleton is the founder of The Five O'Clock Club, a job-search strategy group that helps job hunters and career changers.  For further information on the Five O'Clock Club, visit www.fiveoclockclub.com