Growing your Career: Do at GUT Check

This blog is focused on web professionals, and to be that, I’d like for you all to have jobs. Given the state of the economy there are three tips I want you to start on immediately, regardless of your rank, industry, or location.

There are actually great opportunities for those during a recession for professionals, restrained resources and competition will force you to become excellent in whatever you do. You’ll be forced to learn new skills and be more efficient than you’ve ever before. Some layoffs will leave opportunities for vertical growth and leadership opportunities.

You’re going to need a leg up in the market whether it be in your company, outside of your company, or to win new clients. You should start this process now, a simple three letter acronym that you should repeat during your day to yourself. Ready?

Growing your Career: Do at GUT Check:

G: Grow Your Network Before You Need Them
Nothing is more sad that seeing someone getting layed off and groveling to their non-qualified friends and family the need for a job. After this, they’ll go to their professional network to help and network with others, but the look of desperation is evident –no one wants to be hired out of pity. Be prepared.

Therefore you should always be building your professional network, espicially when your job feels secured. There’s really no excuse as many real world networking events are free, but if you’re in Juno, err Juneau Alaska, you can heavily lean on the digital tools, they’re also free. You should start by building your online profile in social network sites, finding the communities most tied to your industry, then reading, then answering some of the questions in forums. The trick here is to add value, not just ask for help, demonstrate your expertise by answering questions in an intelligent way and helping others. If you’re a web professional, start with my Facebook group, or if you’re a social media professional, I created this one for you. I’m not scalable –but networks are– so you’ll have to connect with others around us to grow.

U: Uncomfortness Leads to Growth
When you look at a candidates resume, and you see (esp in web industry) they’ve not grown in the last 3-5 years with their skillsets (not skillets), you ought to be worried. In a tough market, employers and clients want self-starters, those that go beyond the regular call of just doing the minimum requirements. Being Uncomfortable means trying something new, and eventually growing.

When I was an intern right out of college, I made a promise to myself to bug everyone in the IT department to teach me a new skill or task. You’d be surprised how thankful they were that someone so young wanted to learn from them. Each day, you should do the same, find someone and ask them to show you something or teach you something new in your career. What am I doing? I spend two hours each morning reading and blogging before I look at email, and I just started Guy’s latest book, Reality Check.

T: Tout Your Successes
Getting found online is part of the game, recruiters are going to do web searches before they purchase time on my job board, so you want to easily make yourself found. By this time if you’re a web professional and you don’t have your own personal domain I’m concerned for you, what are you waiting for, it’s only 10 dollars to register and 5 a month to host at some places.

If you’re worried about looking like you’re trying to find a new job, you can use your initials and just list the industry that you’re working in to protect your identity. If you’re still concerned, rather than post your resume on your own website, keep your LinkedIn profile updated with the higlights.

At industry parties and events I always ask folks: “What do you do” it’s surprising how folks are unable to articulate what they do, they beat around the bush, are self-deprecating, or try to avoid the topic all together. Instead, develop a single sentence describing what you do, practice your delivery, and learn how to ask an open ended question to trigger a conversation.

One caveat, this does not give you the right to be a raging egomaniac on your blog or website (sorta how I fear I come off sometimes) but is the chance for you to list what you’re capable of doing, what you’ve done, and what you can do for others.

Everyday I want you to do a GUT check, practice these skills, build your arsenal, don’t hesitate but do it now. Are you an HR professional, career development expert, or just learned a helpful tip along the way?? Now’s your time to leave a comment here with some other tips to demonstrate your own tips. Leave a comment or suggestion to help others.

  • Steve Lup.

    Despite the seemingly rough times ahead for job seekers, here are 3 more suggestions:
    Be flexible- consider opportunities outside your normal sphere. Accept risk – especially if you’re young and have fewer obligations today than you anticipate in the future. Be confident- not only in your abilities but in the vision you see for your future.
    Tough times and unemployment inevitably spawn new ideas and new entrepreneurs. It’s possible that you may look back on this period as the ‘good times’ if you have the right attitude.

  • http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/ jeremiah_owyang

    Good ones Steve, thanks. I’m already looking at what else is there besides Social Media and you should too.

  • http://www.abiggervoice.com Carol Ross

    Hi Jeremiah,

    Thanks for getting this deeper conversation started, especially given the economic climate.
    Agree with all three of your points and the need to get started now.

    One of the biggest mistakes I made when I was working as an engineer is not building a network OUTSIDE of my company. I knew lots of people inside of a large telecom company in the ’90s but that was of minimal use when I got laid off and couldn’t apply for any internal jobs. In the end it was my network of friends at work who had friends in other companies that got me my next job. And I would have been much better off if I had the direct relationships to others in my industry at a variety of companies.

    Expanding on your last point about being more visible:

    * Understand the brand that you’ve unconsciously created. People think that they don’t have a personal brand unless they’ve purposely worked on having one. Not the case. You are known for something already, whether you are aware of it or not. A great tool that I’ve used for myself and my clients (I’m a career coach) is the Reach360, http://tiny.cc/yM008. It’s an online survey with questions about adjectives that describe you as well as more fun questions like what kind of car would you be. You can send to as many people as you want with their responses returned anonymously and get the results compiled automatically. All for less than $30. The catch is that the survey and summary of results are only valid for 30 days. So plan to move into action quickly if you sign up.

    * Based on what your current brand is, decide what you want to emphasize and make it more visible. This is the start of what makes you unique and a more meaningful answer to Jeremiah’s question of “what do you do?” For example, from the Reach360, my top attributes are intelligent, genuine, and creative. So the tagline for my coaching business is “Helping intelligent, analytical thinkers be more creative and energized in their work and life.”

    * Touting yourself and what you uniquely bring to the table is not about feeding your ego. It’s about being of service. People often mistake arrogance as lifting yourself up above others. Actually, arrogance is about making others feel small, not making yourself big. An article about this: http://tiny.cc/VeGkD.

    I’m looking forward to hearing what others have to say about this topic.

  • http://www.userglue.com/blog/ Russ

    http://tinyurl.com/56ko6m

    There’s a good list of other things to do that can help keep your head in the game–and they’ll add to this list of checks to keep you growing and improving.

  • http://innerarchitect.com dean guadagni

    Jeremiah,

    Your suggestions are excellent. May I had our own formula to the mix? We run a workshop called “Blogging to Employment” which strategically targets a jobseeker’s prospects by utilizing direct marketing principles. The jobseeker’s value message is delivered via their own blog which we help them set up. Jobseekers become proactive instead of always moving forward in “response mode.”
    Here is a source to understand employment campaigns:http://tinyurl.com/6hjy35
    Here is the program: http://tinyurl.com/3mhr7p

    Dean Guadagni
    Business Director
    Inner Architect; Inner Architect Media

  • http://www.mor.ph M L

    My reco? Take risks. What have you got to lose anyway?

    If you’ve got the will, nothing is really impossible.

  • http://www.socialnetworkmarketinguk.com Tom Chapman

    Sound words Jeremiah. Your mantra can be applied to all aspects of our lives not just the career.
    Those who are savvy will always be educating themselves to stay one step ahead of the competition, as to stay still opens yourself up to vulnerabilities.
    We can look at those great companies who have survived many recessions and still stand strong today because of their adaptability and employing those who show foresight, drive, ambition and determination.
    This can be summed up by a quote from Darwin that “it is not the strongest or the most intelligent that survive – but those species most adaptable to change.” I’m pretty sure the majority of your readers interested in social media and digital strategy are on the bubble and at the cutting edge of new digital techniques.
    For those who have been made redundant or face redundancy they should remember that it is not the person being made redundant but the role so I hope this gives some confidence. Glad you have the drive and enthusiasm as this blog is a great place to hang out and feed the old grey matter :)

  • http://www.twitter.com/rjmoriarty Richard Moriarty

    Jeremiah, as a person who is attempting to start an independant web (and potentially tech) career from scratch, out of “Juno” of all places, I have found this especially enlightening. Thanks for the awesome post.

  • http://hooversbiz.com Tim (@Twalk) Walker

    Good stuff, Jeremiah.

    I would add this recommendation: figure out some way of keeping track of your effort. If you’re job-hunting, this could relate to how many conversations you have per week that might lead to interviews. If you’re building your network, it might be how many new people you’re connecting with (not just “friending” online in an empty way) per month.

    The metric doesn’t have to be scientific, and it doesn’t have to work for anyone but you. My own version of this I call “hustle points”: at the start of a new week, I lay out a 100-square grid, and then throughout the week I check off boxes for various personally-defined actions that I can expect will move me in the right direction over time.

    It’s not perfect, but it does give me the chance to evaluate at least roughly my level of hustle week in and week out.

  • http://www.jobmatchbox.com Bob

    Having an online presence is important, especially for people who are looking in the web/digital marketplace. I can’t emphasize enough that people need to put more than a passing thought into their online presence/portfolio. If they don’t have time to do it right then they should opt for a site that will do it for them and then just focus on getting their content up (the best stuff). Sites like Coroflot and LinkedIn are sufficient for this. If your portfolio page is weak, bad, iffy, or just plain unimpressive you will not get a second chance so make it right the first time.

    Bob
    Jobmatchbox.com

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  • http://byteresawu.com Teresa

    Jeremiah,
    I’m a student interested in a new media career. While I’m still figuring it all out, your posts are always incredibly helpful in teaching me more about the industry. I love social media because it’s been a tremendously beneficial tool in building my network, even though I’m just a junior in college.

    I just bought myself Guy Kawasaki’s book on Friday! Looking forward to reading it. :)

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  • http://blog.mor.ph Alain Yap, Morph Labs

    Honestly, Jeremiah – never really put much thought into growing a career. When I’m interested in something I just go and try to learn everything about it. Sometimes, it doesn’t turn out quite as planned but the more you learn, the more doors open up for you. For some it’s a waste of time or resources but reading about people and what they consider true success, it’s about doing something you love [which takes time and careful consideration] and everything follows – networks, ROI, career and meaningful life (which may not be recession-proof but definitely rich in value extending beyond this lifetime).

    Best.

  • http://www.morgansullivan.com John P Kreiss

    Great post. Networking is a the best way to find employment. the digital age has made it even easier to get your name out. Here are some points I might add:

    Make sure your bio is updated on social network sites including LinkedIn and Facebook.

    Set up a blog and write about isssues in the work you want to do and position youself as an expert.

    Link your posts to social network sights including twitter, friendfeed, facebook, and linkedin.

    John P. Kreiss
    MorganSullivan, Inc.
    Business Solutions in Real Estate and Construction

  • http://www.itpromarketer.com Brandon

    Jeremiah,
    Nice points indeed… I like the G-U-T check acronym!

  • http://www.pizzaforadream.com PizzaForADream.com

    I call it “Dig Your Well Before You Get Thirsty” (http://tinyurl.com/5zeokqas) I believe we’re all fooling ourselves if we think any of us is SECURE in today’s economy. Professional relationships on and offline are essential along with adding additional streams of income to create more security and stability.

  • http://www.marketingformavens.com Chris

    Excellent points. I’m trying to learn from my experiences the last time we went through tough times after 9/11. This time I’m diversifying my skillset and not just relying on my employer to weather the storm.

    Now is definitely the time to prepare yourself not after you’re out of work. I made that mistake once and I won’t be doing it again.

  • http://mypartofcolorado.blogspot.com/ paul merrill

    “…this does not give you the right to be a raging egomaniac on your blog or website (sorta how I fear I come off sometimes)…”

    No worries, Jeremiah – your attitude is good, and it shows.

  • http://www.markfaul.ca Mark Faul

    Great post – thanks!

    Many people are hesitant to participate online – many more lurkers than contributors are out there – and as a social media business analyst one of my challenges is how to increase participation in online discussions. A couple of tips: (1) Organize in-person meetings to help some quieter people to share their ideas and feel comfortable with the group; (2) make private phone calls or emails to help group members feel that they have good ideas to share. A little encouragement can help people share their ideas through a blog; (3) praise, encourage, ask follow-up questions when someone does post for the first time. This will not only make that person feel good about participating, but also demonstrate to others that the environment is supportive.

    Of course, there will always be lurkers, and probably a minority of people who actually post (depending on group size). The tips above can certainly help to convert some of the lurkers into more active participants.

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  • http://twitter.com/dfarnworth Demian Farnworth

    Exceptional post. What you say about grow your network is so true. I’ve got a pretty secure job [after I got out of the real estate industry] but what the further down turn in the market did for me was to open my eyes to complacency and start working on my network now. Not when it’s too late.

    For example, I’ve seen so much networking activity on LinkedIn in the past several months. One wonders if it’s not too late. You’ve only got a pretty shallow reputation at that point.

    Same goes for the AB buyout by InBev. Since I’m in St. Louis, I’ve got a number of friends who work for the brewery, in the tech side, and they are the hottest movers on LinkedIn. Fortunately, when the barbarians are at the gate, it’s a little too late to look for allies.

    Thanks for your wisdom.

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    Impressive, employee could use this GUT in order to become a good employer of their company and I guess it can also help job seeker to continue find jobs until they reach it.

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