The Priceless Career Campaign

Machiavelli WEB SMLRecently, I went into a bank to deposit money into some CDs. The woman who helped me was older and quite efficient. I just assumed she had been with the bank for many years. When I asked her how long she had been with the bank, she said, I’ve only been here about six months. She explained that she had been with a bigger bank that was purchased by an even bigger bank and management laid off all the women over 55 years of age. But wait, there’s more!

Ford is laying off 7000 workers. The media has lost 2,700 workers to layoffs. 

According to Ars Technica when AT&T purchased Time Warner, layoffs occurred in 11 states due to “geographic rationalization [whatever THAT is] and employee surplus”. An inside source at CNN shared with me that in Atlanta, most of the layoffs were people 55 and older. I guess there was a need for “age rationalization” as well.

It Happens in the Best of Families

Many of us have been caught in the throws of a layoff. Not only is it a disconcerting time, a layoff seems to have a knack for coming at the worst times. For example, you’ve just had a baby, bought your first house, and a new car. Or maybe, you just completed your masters with a loan to pay off, went on an expensive vacation to celebrate, and when you return, you find out that one of your parents needs an operation and they require financial help. My favorite,  you’ve been with a company for 35 years and were feeling secure. Then WHAM! you get blindsided with a layoff.

No one is immune to an organization’s business decision. Again, according to Ars Technica In the case of the AT&T/Time Warner merger, AT&T received a big tax break promising that the merger would create thousands of jobs. Instead they cut 23,000! No one should feel comfortable in such a situation. These cases are even more reason to be proactive and take responsibility for your own career.

To Be Polite or to Be Political, That is the Question

If you want to have a successful career, you need people. Yes, you need skills for sure and if your career goal requires at least the knowledge of a skill you currently lack, you need to get busy and find a way to develop that skill. However, no matter how many skills you have or how good you are at any of them, if no one knows you exist, you’re DRT. DRT is an acronym for Dead Right There. DRT is a term a paramedic uses when coming on the scene and finding someone who is deceased; and DRT is where you’re career will be without others who know you, like you, and are willing to promote you either literally or at least verbally to those who can literally promote you.

One of the first things you need to do is to exam your sphere of influence. Who is in your circle of contacts who has the kind of influence you need to help you get where you want to go? Remember, building a career campaign is a step-by-step process. Building a sphere of influence doesn’t happen overnight and it takes many steps and a dedicated process to build a solid circle of supporters.

Be Flexible

While a career campaign is a step-by-step process, it does not necessarily involve taking steps in a straight line. For example, let’s say you have your eye on a Director position, but you are a couple of positions away. Be willing to take a position that becomes vacant that might put you in a sphere of influence that you would not ordinarily have access to at this time in your career path. This sphere of influence might help you reach either the next step or the Director position sooner.

Are You Willing to Pay the Price?

Are you willing to pay the price for what you want? If not, then how badly do you want it? I knew that if I wanted to be the kind of coach I needed to be; I would require a master’s degree. I knew it would be expensive and time consuming. But I accomplished my goal and the material I learned and the people I met has been invaluable. Career goals don’t always require additional degrees or certifications. But are you willing to get your hands dirty and take a position that is not ideal, but that can teach you what you need to know? Are you willing to serve on a committee to gain exposure? Are you willing to volunteer at a non-profit to meet some of its Board members? Some call this being Machiavellian, some call it playing politics, and some say  it is manipulating others. I call it effective planning, thinking strategically, and just plan smart. I call it good career campaigning by being someone who is willing to pay the price to have a career that can support you and your family in both good and tough times. That is called priceless.

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Banking, Outplacement