Losing Your Career Edge? Go on the Offensive.

Career disappointments can be immobilizing. They happen when you: 

  • hear your degree’s in a “sorry, no openings” field
  • get promoted or transferred to an “I hate it” job
  • are downsized and believe “you’re finished” 

It’s dreadful but not terminal. 

Go on the offensive! 

This is no time to pull the covers over your head. You have hard-earned credentials, capabilities, experiences, and prospects to protect. 

Your career can’t go down the tubes unless you let it. Your knowledge and skills don’t change just because conditions do.  They are the assets that move you forward.  You must keep them well oiled, so they won’t erode.  

Here’s the issue:  When you’re unemployed, underemployed, or in the wrong job, you aren’t using your full arsenal of skills. The potential consequences of that are: 

  • Gradual decline in your expertise (You sense you don’t have it like you used to.)
  • Loss of brand value (Coworkers don’t remember your strengths or call on them.)
  • A perception that you’ve set them aside (Coworkers think you’re no longer committed to them.)
  • Sense of loss (You think you’ve lost your edge and can’t get it back.) 

Protect what you’ve got! 

Managing your career isn’t easy. It’s about work and not luck. 

Here’s the deal: No matter where you are in your career cycle, you have to take control of your brand, protect your base of skills/knowledge, and build your professional/trade affiliations. 

You should never turn your career totally over to your employer. You can and should take advantage of employer-offered opportunities, but you always need to own your career. 

Remember: You life is your business, so you need to manage it like the entrepreneur that you are, like it or not.    

Stay visible. 

There is no excuse for not taking charge of your personal brand and positioning yourself in the career arena you want, regardless of your current employment status. 

You need to make sure that your expertise and commitment to your career are out there, where you have a strong professional identity that validates your credibility. It may eventually connect you with people who will lead you to the job you’ve always wanted. 

To maintain your edge and build your brand identity, try these ideas: 

  • Join professional associations and attend annual conferences to keep up with issues, stay updated on products/services, meet experts, and network
    • Volunteer your services to these organizations, especially as someone who’ll introduce a speaker at a meeting
  • Read professional journals regularly, correspond directly with contributors, and write a letter to the editor praising an article
  • Keep any licenses up to date by attending re-credentialing sessions even if they cost you
  • Write your own blog, focused on your professional interests, expertise, and experience, air your voice and engage others by:  
    • Commenting on relevant topics/issues from your perspective
    • Reviewing books and articles by experts in your field
    • Providing an update or summary of a conference or meeting you attended
    • Notifying readers of upcoming events, news, and regulatory changes
    • Interviewing key people you’d like to know and have know you
    • Offer to guest post for others and invite them to post for you 

Make sure you include this involvement, in some fashion, on your resume or in your cover letter. 

Fight to keep your edge 

Remember: It’s not who you know but who knows you that makes a difference in the progress of your career. That’s why these steps are so important. 

If you want to take control of your career, if you accept that you owe it to yourself (and perhaps others) to protect all that you have accomplished, then make a commitment to prevent yourself from going backward. Actually, this can be fun, if you want it to be! 

What would you add to the list? Have a success story to share? Thanks.


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