with the Manager of Career Development, Diane Kohler
GROWING YOUR CAREER IN AN ECONOMIC DRAUGHT
National, regional and local headlines bombard us with news of layoffs in all industries, and all levels of the organizational chart. 48% of U.S. employers laid people off in 208 according to a poll by the Society for Human Resource Management, with 60% planning cuts in 2009. Even those who are still employed are not seeing financial growth. The number of employers who were planning to freeze salaries to contain costs jumped from 4% to 13% last fall as reported by Watson Wyatt HR consulting firm. Here at UK we are facing our second consecutive year without a salary increase.
It’s no wonder that many of us are feeling ‘stressed out’ about work. We’ve all heard it before: “When times get tough the tough get going!” Pause to consider how that statement squares with your personal style of dealing with adversity and stress. Think about how you are currently handling your job and your career at UK. Are you one to ‘hunker down’ or ‘hustle up?’ Employees who ‘hunker down’ brace themselves for the worst and settle for ‘riding out the storm’ of current bad news. They engage in self-defeating and negative self talk, e.g. ‘there are no jobs,’ ‘no one is hiring now,’ ‘I better not make waves and just stay put for awhile,’ ‘if I stay under the radar, I’ll always have my job,’ etc. Career savvy employees, however, ‘hustle up’ and take a more pro-active approach to recession-proof their jobs.
The Career Development office is here to help you realize what smart organizations know. The economy will stabilize and improve. Increased opportunities will arise. Will you be ready to benefit from them?
Here are a few steps to take in managing and growing your career in difficult times:
- Convey a positive attitude. “Hire for attitude, train the skill” is the philosophy of many hiring managers. A negative, pessimistic attitude not only brings you down but makes it hard for others to work with you. External circumstances are out of your control; your attitude, however, is your interior landscape over which you have total control. If stress and depression are impacting your work, visit http://www.uky.edu/HR/WLC/monthly_message.html or call 257-9433 to make an appointment to speak confidentially with an employee assistance counselor.
- Understand how the work you do serves your department and division in its mission to fulfill the larger goals of UK. If you haven’t done so, read a draft of the University’s 2009-14 strategic plan and consider how your department and your job support it. If you don’t know and believe your work makes a difference here, no one else will either. Read a draft of the current 5 year plan at: http://www.uky.edu/Provost/strategic_planning/draft_outline.htm
- Work hard. Now more than ever, in turbulent and changing times, you should continue to do your best and contribute to the success of your team, unit and division. Go beyond your Results Expected and Job Standards in your Performance Plan. Keep a copy of your Performance Evaluation close at hand and review it monthly, noting contributions you have made that support each Essential Function. This will make your career conversation at your next Performance Evaluation that much more productive.
- Know your strengths and be able to convey your value. No matter what your job entails, you must know what your abilities are, what contributions you make, and how your abilities make a difference in your department and at UK overall. If you need assistance in identifying and articulating your skills, make an appointment in the Career Development office to take the SkillScan™ assessment with a career specialist. Visit www.uky.edu/hr/cd to learn more or call 257-9416 to make an appointment.
- Learn something new each year. Investing in yourself, your knowledge and skills, is the clearest path to developing ‘career resiliency’ and the ability to weather hard times. Whether you take advantage of the Employee Education Plan (http://www.uky.edu/HR/benefits/eep_overview.html) and take college credit classes, or utilize the many technical and professional development training opportunities through Human Resources Training and Development, http://hr.uky.edu/TandD/, stay engaged and become a life-long learner.
- Develop your resume and keep it current. Take advantage of the resume building and revising tool, OptimalResume™, available to you through the Career Development Office to build your first resume or improve and revise your current one. Cover letter development is also provided. Visit www.uky.edu/hr/cd, or call 257-9416 to get started.
- Practice your interviewing skills. That next opportunity may come along when you least expect it. Use this time of slower growth at the University to prepare yourself for your next career move when times improve. Practice your interviewing skills with a career specialist in the Career Development Program office and/or utilize the Web-based Interview Mastery™ tool 24/7 wherever you have internet access.
- Understand the power of networking. It’s said among head-hunters and job search coaches that job seekers are either ‘networking’ or ‘not working.’ Volunteer for a project that will bring you into contact with staff in your own and other departments at UK. Join a professional association and serve on committees. Follow the advice of author Keith Ferrazzi and Never Eat Alone—ask someone you don’t know well to join you. Find out how/if your jobs and work intersect. Or how you might collaborate or help each other. Remember to be helpful to those you meet along the way. Reciprocity is the cornerstone for successful networking.
- Say ‘good-bye to the corporate ladder’ and ‘hello to the organizational lattice or ramp.’ Read Beverly Kaye’s Up Is Not the Only Way for a closer look at many types of career paths and/or William Arruda’s Career Distinction: Stand Out by Building Your Brand for a better understanding of the changes in career development over the past decade.
- Remember that your career is YOUR responsibility! Don’t keep your light hidden and wait passively to ‘be discovered.’ Learn how things get done in your department, division and at UK. Show initiative by asking questions. Caitlin Williams suggests questions for workers to consider: Who are the people that make things happen here? Who are the team leaders that get the exciting projects? How do employees get on these particular teams? How can I position myself to get on one of those teams?
While it is true that ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get going,’ the tough don’t have to ‘go it alone.’ The University of Kentucky provides Career Development coaching and assistance for its employees in recognition that it is the employees who make UK “one great place to work’. Career Development services are available to all regular, full-time staff who are in good standing at the University and who have completed at least 3 months of employment.
(*All books referenced in this article are available in the Career Resource Room of the Career Development Office, in Room 124 Scovell Hall.) 04.27.09 Diane Kohler