It’s All About Differentiation
Silicon Valley’s career guru, Patti Wilson has published her mid-year Careerzine. I’ve excerpted some of it below; it’s perhaps a bit on the “realistic” side, but has some good tips, such as to work on “career differentiation”. This is true in job hunting, applying to graduate school, and managing your current career if you are working for someone else or self employed.
It is hard to know with certainty who to believe any more, but more importantly it is even more difficult to plan and prepare for contingencies and do adequate career management. My approach is to hope for the best but prepare for the absolute worse. Be ready to hang on as if you had to tough it out for 5+ years while you look for your dream job.
Silicon Valley vs. the US Economy
The difference between Silicon Valley and the rest of the US economy, aside from a state budget run amok, is that the tech bubble bursting and the massive blood-letting of companies and jobs between 2000-2003 seems to have mitigated the damage this time around. It simply is not as bad as other regions. Companies are hiring and laying off people. Green jobs are growing here as is bio-tech/bio-pharma. I have heard that the salaries of local MBA grads of our top schools are higher this year than last. On the other hand, people are more precarious than during the tech bust as there is less to nothing to fall back on. Many have seen their 401k plans lose 40% or more in value and the home equity was already used up in refinancing to get through the last crash.
Now that’s the $64 question and if the dollar devalues, it will be the $100 question. Advice I have been giving my clients is to be prepared to last it out for however long it takes. With increasing fierce competition on a global scale, you must commit your resolve and effort to “career differentiation”. Yes, I know that’s a mouthful, but personal branding is so overworked. And do you really know how to brand yourself? Or what you would look like if you were?
Being able to answer to “what makes you different?” is really how you can articulate your unique value proposition to the world. And knowing what makes you different takes reflection, effort and the long view. You have to look forward down the road to see where you are headed because recognizing your distinct path in part makes you different.
The tools are there: social sites, blogs, video, podcasts, and wikis. To not understand them, and make the most of them is to your detriment as they give you the edge to show the world how, why and in what way you are different as visibly as possible. And that in itself can determine your success.
So, spruce up your Linkedin profile, get on Facebook, Twitter and then explore the more esoteric vertical social sites to find more ways to be connected and visible to everyone.
Yes, career security does exist in these tough times. It is in the power of the collective and the collaborative. It stands to reason that if consultants are competing for every project then they are better off collaborating on all projects. If we are all striving to be different then helping everyone be their personal best will only help you stand out too. If you can take the long view and look down the road, you can change the future.