Job Search Tip of the Week #9 (2017)
Caressa Moy | February 27, 2017 | 9:00 am
The Case for the Perpetual Job Search
Part III: Should You Want to Stay a Little While
After evaluating what you’re getting out of your job, you might’ve decided to stay at your current company. However, if you want to stay satisfied with the pace of your personal and professional development, you can’t rest on your laurels.
English philosopher Sir Francis Bacon once said, “A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.” Some 400 years later, amidst an economy still in slow recovery from The Great Recession, his words couldn’t ring more true. Job security and career advancement requires identifying where the company can improve, and acting on that knowledge. Take these four steps:
No. 1: Have an ear to the ground
Google asked its engineers to contribute to the unconventional design of its Zurich office (which includes beanbag and massage chairs for relaxation, slides and fireman poles for room-to-room transportation, pool tables and video game rooms for recreation, and igloos and cabins for meeting rooms!) after observing that increases in productivity seemed to be associated with a creative work environment within a flat, open floor plan. Lesson is, if you want to make a positive impact on the company, pay close attention to what’s going around you. Observe the office environment and its effect on engineering culture, and don’t be afraid to recommend what can be done to optimize day-to-day operations. You don’t have to suggest as radical a change as an office remodel!
You should also conduct some additional research to find out what the company needs to do in order to become or stay an industry competitor. Is a similar company taking on an innovative project that could bring them to the forefront? Expanding overseas? Social media serves as a great listening post to gain useful insight into organization and industry news.
For example, Dropbox took to Twitter to publicly announce the opening of its first international office in Dublin, Ireland. Dropbox employees who’d been paying attention to the rumors floating around months prior could’ve taken foreign language classes to enhance their qualifications and open themselves up to relocating for this international opportunity.
By keeping abreast of events that pertain to your company’s activities, you put yourself in a position to pitch yourself as the solution.
No. 2: Ask yourself, “Can I fulfill my company’s needs?“
After Step No. 1 you should be able to determine which skills, languages, and tools hold the most value to your organization. Acquire these skills in order to increase your ability to contribute to your company and consequently your long-term value and earning potential.
For example, because companies are now more than ever going mobile, it would be wise as a software developer to prepare for mobilization by learning new technologies like HTML5 and Objective-C. Make your continuing education endeavors known, and you’ll increase the likelihood of being asked to assist in spearheading the company’s mobile or cross-platform application development efforts or even getting promoted.
Another way to solidify job security is to request to cross-train, which shows that you have a desire to grow within the organization. Cross-training gives you the opportunity not only to learn new skills or approaches from other professionals within the company, but to become more involved with the development process and achieve a greater understanding of the business as a whole.
For example, as a Front-end Engineer, you can request to work more closely Full-stack Engineers, which would expose you to more technologies, demonstrate your adaptability, and increase your employability. In addition, networking more within the company could help your employment prospects down the road!
No. 3: Undertake a long-term project with potential for high, positive impact.
Another way to increase your visibility within the company is to take on a long-term endeavor that can be linked to increases in company productivity, output, revenues, and/or profits. For example, one of Google’s software engineers, Bharat Mediratta, observed how code suffered because developers didn’t want to take the time to test. He formed a team of fellow engineers who shared new and interesting testing techniques and contributed to the creation of an integral part of Google’s culture, the automatic testing approach. Mediratta showed that he wasn’t one to simply talk about problems, but the person to go to for solutions, and that the benefit of developing something from the ground-up is that if it’s successful, you’ll be the indispensable expert on it!
So, two things to think about: Strategic self-promotion, and passion. Overpromising and under-delivering will damage you credibility and you’ll become known as the software engineer who’s all talk, no skill. Find a side project you’re passionate about and can realistically tackle with your current resources. As the late Steve Jobs put it, “Oftentimes it’s the ones [who] were successful loved what they did, so they could persevere when it got really tough.”
No. 4: Continuously promote yourself.
Your résumé is your key to securing employment. Constantly update your online profile and résumé as you complete tasks and obtain specializations and certifications. If possible, quantify or monetize your accomplishments. It’s important to let people know exactly how your work made a difference to your organization! Check out the bolded portions of this sample résumé to see how it’s done.
After completing high-visibility, high-impact projects, ask for references from the managers who supervised you and the coworkers who assisted you. By doing so, you’re reminding them of your leadership initiative and expanding your professional network. Talk about your professional goals and ask if the company will sponsor continuing education or training programs, or create unique learning or internal networking opportunities for you.
Also, don’t turn down opportunities to network with people outside of your company, because waiting until you need a job is disadvantageous to your personal and professional development. Who knows, a person you network with now may have the dream opportunity for someone of your skill and expertise later down the road. You’ll also be glad for the interviewing practice when you do decide to become an active job seeker.
Remember: From the aforementioned steps, it should be clear to you that job security can never be attained, especially since technology changes so rapidly. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t strive for it! Create opportunities for yourself to enrich and enlarge your job, and continue to add to your industry knowledge and skill set. You’ll remain an asset to your employer and increase your marketability should you ever decide to leave.
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Photo Credit: “Peg Game” by Jonathan Boncek