In an episode of Question Of the Day James Altucher talks about the three money skills everyone needs to have; getting money, keeping money, and growing money.  It hit me, the same is true in our career.  There are three basic skills that you must have if you want to be successful.

Getting a job

To some people this sounds easy.  Either they have been with the same company for a long time or they have always had people come to them with new opportunities.  Either way, this is not the norm for most people.  If you are like me, when you need a job it is not easy nor a very pleasant experience.  Most of us think that we just look online, apply to the jobs we want and then wait for a phone call.  In truth this may work, eventually.  But only applying to jobs online is likely to take a very LONG time, if it works.

I am not saying don’t apply online I am just saying that is not enough.  Think of it like making a sandwich.  Can you do in the NY way and have just bread and meat?  Sure, but it is usually better with a little of this and a little of that.  Also consider that not everyone wants or needs a sandwich made the same way.  The same goes for your job search.  I think at a minimum you need to add social media and networking.  But you may also want to add your own website or even a direct mail campaign.  The fact is there is no one right way to find a job, but there are several wrong ways.

Keeping your job

This sounds silly but a lot of people seem to have a tough time keeping their jobs.  I see it all the time… a year here, two years there.  All of a sudden you look up after 10 years and 6 jobs later to learn companies don’t like hiring job hoppers.  While that might not seem like a lot of job movement think if you met someone who had been married to six different people in 10 years.  Would you question whether or not they would stay with you?  Yes, some people and companies are embracing the gig economy but not all.  I dare to say that most are not.  Most companies still want people to stick around.

Yes, sometimes you lose your job for no fault of your own.  Layoffs, reorgs and restructuring takes its toll.  But is it out of your control?  Are you looking for ways to add value to the organization?  Are you helping others get their jobs done?  This may not insulate you from all external job loss causes but it will help your name stay off the lists you don’t want to be on.  At least until they want to break up with you.

Because of that, you need to be ready. I am not saying that you need to go around looking for a backup all the time (a joke with me and the Mrs.)  But at the end of the day some companies see humans as capital.  If someone gets paid off of EBITDA and putting my salary to the bottom like will help them hit their goal… well, I get it.  Look at preparing for a future job search this way…  Why do schools have fire drills?  Because we want our children to be safe.  No one questions why schools do fire drills.  But did you know that more children die from any other cause than fire each year?  Lightning, homicide, suicide, school transportation, severe winds, etc…  But we keep doing fire drills, not because there are a lot of fires but because when there were school fires in the past (4 decades or more ago) children died they were terrible.  The same goes for your job search skills.  You may not need to look for a job this year or even this decade but you need to do the basics, even if you are not worried about your job.  You need to ask yourself: Am I building my network?  Am I engaging with my profession and/or industry?  Am I involved in organizations? Would my social media make someone want to hire me?

Growing your career

These days you need to be responsible for your own career.  There are not many companies with internal programs to develop their people.  One of the questions we like to ask in interviews is “what are you doing to improve?”  I want people who read (audio books work too,) listen to developmental podcasts or somehow are looking to get better.  You need to ask yourself “Am I learning new skills?”  Or how about professional designations?  If you are a programmer are you learning new languages?  With all the resources at our fingertips there are no excuses for not learning.

There is some disagreement on this but I am not a huge believer in setting big, multi-year goals.  I know, I know… you will miss 100% of the goals you don’t set.  I am not saying don’t have any goals.  I just set smaller, short term goals.  What I want to be when I finally grow up, who knows?  I look at it similarly to Tim Ferriss.  I like to try different things and see what works.  For one thing, who knows what will even be possible in another 10 – 20 years?

I do believe that everyone needs to figure out their gift.  Once you figure out your gift you can look for ways for it to find expression in what you do as a profession.  If you can do that, then I believe you can have success.  Unfortunately we all too often define success as a position or an amount of money only to discover it did not bring us the happiness we expected.  We need to enjoy the journey.

You must first start your journey before you can learn to enjoy it.
Al Pollard