This downturn has a lot of people scrambling to find a new job. If I could hazard a guess, most never thought that they would “get the ax” but they did. Now, with a flood of job hunters chasing a trickle of openings, I am sure most are wondering how to stand out among the crowd. One way to do that is to build a career platform.
What’s A Platform?
A career platform is your professional persona. It’s the things you do that build up your reputation as a desirable employee. It’s the associations you belong to, the papers you write, your blog, your LinkedIn network, the places your volunteer and your patents. Basically, if someone searches you on Google, they should not only confirm your resume but also get a deeper sense of what you are about. Writers build a platform so they can sell books. You need a career platform to sell yourself.
Step 1: What Do You Want?
Before building your platform, you need to figure out what you want out of your career. Your career path should be dissected into chunks. Starting with what you want to do in a year. Building from that, figure out your three and five year plans. Look at your plans and figure out is that really you or do you just want a bigger pay check. Most people say they want to manage since that brings in more Benjamin’s but that might not align with who they are. This is where you need to sit back and figure out what you stand for or what your belief system is (not to be confused with religion).
Step 2: Your Belief System
I was introduced to the idea of a belief system by Paco Romane (check out his site here). The premise on this is simple. Write down what you believe and what defines you. This could be your core values, what you find funny, how you deal with people, what’s important or whatever. As long as it relates to how you live your life or do your work, put it down. Everything you do, in some way, should relate to your belief system. If you get stuck, don’t know the path to take or just are in a rut, refer to your belief system to get you back on track.
Step 3: Redefine What You Want
Now that you have your belief system, you should look at what you wanted in step 1 and see if it matches it. Refine your career plans to match your belief system. This is a critical step since if your career goals don’t match your belief system, then whatever you pursue will not be harder to obtain and really won’t satisfy your needs.
Step 4: Use And Maintain A Network
Online networking tools like LinkedIn are a great way to manage your contacts and career. Make it a point to connect to old colleagues and keep up with what they are doing. Join groups that interest you and relate to your career. Doing this allows you to keep track of industry trends and see who is making news. Give advice if someone on a forum asks a question you can help with. All of these activities get your name out there. When it’s time to find a new job, where do you think your next employer is going to look?
Step 5: Belong To Professional Groups
Keeping an updated membership to your professional organization or trade group is another great way to keep your network active. Attend the groups social events and volunteer for events. All of these activities shows that you value your profession and want to stay current.
Step 6: Volunteer For Charities
Charities are always in need of skilled people to help them out. Volunteering is a great way to give back while also getting known. Pick a charity that aligns with your passions not one that may align to your career goals. Volunteer because you want to. The career benefits will flow when you have pure motivations not self absorbed aspirations.
Step 7: Write A Blog
Creating a blog is a great way to build your platform. Some caution is warranted on this one because some blog topics may be harmful for your career. So, make sure whatever you do, it aligns somewhat to your professional goals.
Step 8: Write A Book
If you have an idea about how to help your industry or just think writing a book would be fun, then consider doing it. Same warning as above applies. Books are a great way to show what you can do and how you think. White Papers or eBooks are another good way as well. They don’t take that much time and it can boost your platform.
Start Early, Update Often
It best to not wait till the last minute to get your platform going. Continued updating and nurturing will allow you to be ready for a downturn. If you don’t have a career platform and find yourself looking for work, start building one. Start small by gathering your contacts or joining a professional group. Do whatever you can to get your name out that. The time invested in your career platform will pay off big.