5 Ways to Feel Less Trapped By Your Career

By Dianne Dixon
August 19, 2013 • comment(s)
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You’re grateful that you have a job but you’re getting frustrated and more scared. The whispers of an upcoming layoff are always there and you never know when you’ll get the news. What do you do?  Getting a job is tough and you can’t afford to be unemployed. You’re essentially trapped and the company knows it. So how can you manage your career while being trapped by it?

  1. Be loyal to yourself first and always – There was a time when being loyal to a company meant job-security but both terms have no place in a company’s vocabulary much less an employee’s. A company’s loyalty is to its bottom line; as an employee, your loyalty should be to your bottom line. Loyalty to yourself and knowing how to take care of your interests is one of your best assets in managing your career
  2. Know which skills are transferable – Many companies have very specialized positions which can make it less likely that a comparable position exists at another company. On the other hand, the skills it takes to do that specialized job are transferable. Identifying those skills may take a little bit of professional guidance but it’s worth the investment.  Understanding the skills you have to offer gives you confidence
  3. Pursue your next career opportunity while at your current opportunity – Learning your job is necessary but when you start getting comfortable, that’s when you have two choices. You can either get deeper into it or you can check out what other opportunities exist within your company and even outside of it. The second option is more disruptive and keeps you sharp and informed about your options.
  4. Stay on the leading edge of your career – Working in a large organization, it never ceased to amaze me how out of touch some members of the VP’s were about the latest trends and technologies. These were the people tasked with taking the company in the best strategic direction and some were clueless. Knowing what other companies are doing not only helps get a leg up on the competition but in the effort to manage your career, being known as someone “in the know” is a useful moniker to have.
  5. Know the difference between what you love and what you’re doing  – This is a particularly tricky aspect of managing your career because it implies that there can be a difference between knowing your job and enjoying what you do. For some the two sides align perfectly and this is not necessary. For others, like me, being trained to do one thing and loving something else creates friction. Taking classes, getting certifications were necessary steps for me to decide if what I did was what I wanted to keep doing. Knowing what you can do and finding a way to pursue what you love is a challenge but if you’re serious about managing your career, it’s a necessary journey.

Ultimately, learning to manage your career boils down this one premise: you have the ability to affect what happens in your life. You may have been downsized, right-sized, transitioned, but that does not mean that the company that let you go has the final say.  Unless and until you accept that premise, you will be at the mercy of any employer who decides to “trim the fat” and “go lean.”

So what steps are you taking to feel less trapped?

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