Here’s a sobering truth for all of you out there who are happily employed: if you’re not looking for your next job, you’re probably looking at a period of forced unemployment. – Peter Weddle
When you consider the average tenure of a CEO is now less than four years, there is reason for concern. In the wake of the CEO fiascos from Enron, WorldCom and Hewlett Packard, loyal employees were left without jobs, companies had to cut budgets or file bankruptcy after paying out big severance packages and hundreds of innocent employees were left in financial distress. Weddle says that in 2006, 14% of the world’s largest companies fired their CEOs for lousy performance. What this means to employees is that no matter how much hard work and dedication you put in, there is no job security.
How can you protect yourself in such an environment? Weddle says, “Become a “career activist,” defining him/her as is someone who:
- sets the direction for their career (by identifying near-, mid- and longer-term goals that are interesting, challenging and meaningful to them); and
- initiates the specific actions (e.g., finding a mentor, acquiring a certain kind of experience, learning new skills) that will enable them to make steady progress toward and actually accomplish those goals. A career activist, then, is in charge of the change in their career, rather than its victim.
In Weddle’s analysis, job seekers are under the control of those who hire the, while career activists take charge of and control their own career destiny. They make the decisions and do so to meet their own goals. “The selection of one course over another is always based on a single guiding tenet: it is to do that which will advance you toward being the best you can be at your profession, craft or trade,” writes Weddle.
Weddle suggests giving yourself a “personal performance appraisal by asking yourself the following questions:
- Am I doing my best work in my current job or am I just coasting?
- Are my skills and knowledge at the state-of-the-art in my career field or am I growing obsolete?
- What job should I be doing in the next 12-18 months in order to upgrade my performance and my satisfaction at work?
- What do I need to do now to prepare myself so that I can compete successfully for that job at that time?
“Career activism is essentially a pair of commitments you make to yourself: bringing the best you can be at work each day and improving your personal best every day. Those promises provide the only real security there is in today’s volatile and perilous workplace…because you are relying on yourself.” says Weddle.