Tuesday, January 8, 2019

What's in your Career Toolbox

Author:  Michael J Wilson, PMP,  ITIL

What's in your toolbox is a question we should ask ourselves, as we approach the new year.  Just to clarify, the toolbox is not the one you keep in the garage and I am not referring to a getting a new hammer or a set of Torx head screwdrivers; although these make great gifts for the handy person.  No, what I am stressing here is the “Career Toolbox”. Take the time to assess what is rusty, dirty, broken, or just plain missing. Now, I know you may be thinking, “What is he talking about?”. My career is going fine or, I have a job, or I just left my job and won't be out long.  I have gotten a job before, I know what I am doing.  So, if you are in that mindset, great I wish you a joyful new year.  However, if you are in transition, not doing the job you want, or maybe just want to be prepared for the future, then it's time to cleanup, update or get a toolbox.

Here are some things to consider regarding your tools. Remember this is your career, so be honest, ask yourself what is it that you want?  Do you want to be a mechanic, consultant, accountant, lawyer or a teacher?  No answer is wrong, it's your choice.  Next consider how you want to appear or present yourself. Ask yourself “How do I look?”. How is my picture, my wardrobe, my profile and my resume representing me? Then think about, “Do you know enough people and are you networking?” Are you on and use social media? Are you learning and engaging?  If any of these strikes a nerve, or rings a bell, you need to do the yearly career toolbox cleanup. The following steps will really help you get started.

Step 1:  Identification process.  Write down all your tools. These include certificates, training, experience resumes and cover letters, profiles, social media accounts or other job-hunting documents. This will give you a visual to start from.

Step 2:  Carbon dating process. Put a date next to all the tools you have, indicating last use or update. Be honest, you are not impressing anyone by fibbing to yourself. 

Step 3:  Setting the stage.  Write out the job(s) you want. Note:  You can browse the internet for ideas and descriptions.  Shoot for the stars, you can always change your mind. 

Step 4:  Cleanout.  It feels so good to clean out a closet, or garage.  However, parting with objects may be hard. Like many of us, you may hear your parents say, keep that old umbrella, you never know when it's going to rain. Well here's the thing, its Grandpas umbrella from 1952. It has holes and is worn out.   So, you have my permission to get rid of it.  Regarding the career toolbox, if it's not relevant to you today, chances are you don't need it.  Nobody cares if your certified in some old software that isn't used anymore (like, Fortran, Lotus 123 or IBM OS/2).

Step 5:  Window shopping. Identify new tools that you need, or want. Look at the job descriptions and, ask yourself do I know this? Should I know it? What else is there that I need to know? Everyone window shops, we are a social society. We watch, observe, attempt and then we learn.

Step 6:  Spree time is on.  Get new tools or upgrade old ones.  Yes, that's right go and get the tools, you have permission. Sometimes we forget to spend on ourselves, but a sharpened saw will cut better than a dull one. Also remember old saws may just need new blades. So, have fun, just remember to watch your budget and look for groups that have offerings and networking opportunities (like psgofmercercounty.org).

Step 7:  Discovery.   Find out what other tools are out there.  As the saying goes, you sometimes may not know what you don't know.  You may be doing something a way you were taught, you may not know another way. Consider how other people, industries or corporations work. Also become socially aware, of yourself and how others may perceive you.  This is where wardrobes, physical appearance, and body language comes into play. Speak to people, have them look at your tools, get their points of view.  Don't get mad, if they say “yes that sweater make you look fat.” You want the honesty. 

So now you might be wondering, this guy is nuts, talking about toolboxes and careers. I am not a handyman, carpenter or mechanic.  You may not be, but I have spoken with many tradesmen, as well as corporate people, doctors, lawyers, and more.  They all seem to invest in new tools to be their best.  They invest in themselves and do it at least yearly.   Can you say that?