The Great Recession has fundamentally changed the employment landscape in this country. The old rules no longer apply. I believe we are entering into an age of career entrepreneurialism, an age where careers aren’t pursued they are created.
Career success in the New Economy is going to require personal accountability and proactive planning. The 9.5% rate of national unemployment is unchanged from this time a year ago. To make matters worse, there are nearly 7 million American workers who have been out of work for longer than 6 months. This is substantially higher than at any point during the recession. So, whether you are a battle-tested workforce veteran or graduating college senior, you are going to have to start thinking differently. The number of defined job slots available continues to dwindle, which means that you are going to have to start getting more creative and ultimately more competitive.
Yes, you are going to have to start thinking like an entrepreneur. In one way, shape, or form, every entrepreneur has their own YOU Plan and so should you.
Creating a YOU Plan
As a coach trained in the field of organizational psychology, I am firmly against the notion of one-size-fits-all. I believe that we all have our own unique assets and it’s up to each of us to tap into them.
Creating a YOU Plan is about asking yourself serious questions and making tough choices. Developing your own plan starts with taking stock of who you are and the assets you have at your disposal. Although this sounds simple, it’s not. Both transitioning professionals and students alike tend to struggle with this. Once you have a solid handle of yourself, then it’s time to put together a brand package and get in the game.
Start with Your VIPs
When I talk about understanding who you are and the assets you have, I am really talking about three things: Values, Intrinsics, and Passions. Before you can make a series push to get out there and make your next career move, you need to have a firm handle on your Values, Intrinsics, and Passions or what I like to refer to as your VIPs. Just about everyone I meet and work with believes they have a good handle on their VIPs until I push them to seriously answer three questions:
• What are my Values?
• What are my Intrinsics?
• What are my Passions?
Your VIPs are important because they represent the essence of who you are and what you are capable of. Before you can create a brand package and get out there on the market, you must know what you bring to the table. Consider the fact that:
• Your values are what drive your decision making, they are your compass
• Your intrinsics are what you bring to the table, they are your value proposition
• Your passions are what generate your energy and enthusiasm, they are what people see
Package Your Essence
If you can answer the three VIP questions, you’ve answered the larger question of what you are about. The next step is to create a brand package.
Personal branding is about taking the essence of who you are and packaging it in a way that makes sense to potential employers and consumers. Getting your message across will require simple yet high impact sound bites. When developing your brand message make sure you:
• Establish your credibility
• Demonstrate your value
• Show that you stand out
Draw a Roadmap
At the end of the day this is all academic if you don’t have a roadmap. As a job seeker back on the market, you are now in sales for you. Creating a roadmap is about setting goals, establishing metrics, and taking deliberate action. You should have a clear set of activities with daily, weekly, and monthly goals. Even simple things like the number of networking events you’ll attend or the old contacts you’ll reach out to can be a great start.
Creating a YOU plan isn’t easy and it shouldn’t be. However, it is a critical first step in creating a successful career. Keep in mind, would a coach field a team on game day without a game plan? Would an airline pilot take off with a plane full of passengers and no flight plan? Would a general take to the battlefield without a strategy?
Thanks and good luck!
Michael “Dr. Woody” Woodward, PhD is a CEC certified professional coach who holds a PhD in organizational psychology. Dr. Woody is author of the new book The YOU Plan: A 5-step Guide to Taking Charge of Your Career in the New Economy.