Feature: Treat Your Career as an Investment

Feature: Treat Your Career as an Investment

Feature: Treat Your Career as an Investment

More than half of all Americans are now invested in the stock market. Some are more active than others, but all want to achieve significant, positive results. Most also understand that it’s up to them to make it happen. Whatever their goal–great wealth or a great retirement–they have to set the course and take the required action. They have to opt into the 401K program at work, or put their savings into a mutual fund or establish an account with a broker and execute trades. Said another way, their financial investment must be backed up with a commensurate investment of personal attention, time and effort.

The same is true with your career. You invest your talent in your work, and in a perfect world, that commitment would produce a huge paycheck and tremendous satisfaction. Regardless of the position you accepted or the boss you went to work for, your career would consistently provide the rewards you seek. Since the world is imperfect, however, your commitment of talent is necessary, but insufficient to ensure your success. You must reinforce the knowledge, skills and experience you bring to work with a commensurate investment of personal attention, time and effort in the management of your career.

How do you make that investment? As with your financial investments, you should:

  • Keep an eye out for emerging trends of consequence;
  • Constantly reassess your situation; and
  • Act as if your future depends on it (it does).
  • These three guidelines are the hallmarks of a savvy career investor. They won’t eliminate the ups and downs of employment–any more than financial models will flatten the ups and downs of the stock market–but they will enable you to derive the maximum benefit from your career over the long term.

    Keep an eye out for emerging trends of consequence.

    Trends of consequence are those that have the potential to impact significantly on your career field, industry or employer. Spotting them as early as possible, therefore, ensures that you avoid the greatest single threat to career success: unpleasant surprises. The unexpected makes you the victim of workplace changes, rather than their master. To avoid them, invest time regularly in:

  • monitoring professional, trade and general business publications. Use whatever medium delivers the access and convenience you need (e.g., online, print, podcasts) to stay on top of the state-of-the-art in your field and industry.
  • tapping into the insights and intelligence of your peers. Use whatever medium (e.g., online discussion forums, individual or group meetings) will encourage and enable you to stay in touch with the thought leaders and trend spotters in your field and industry.
  • Constantly reassess your situation.

    Change has always been a factor in the workplace, but today, the rate of that change is unprecedented. The dizzying whirl of continuous technological developments, sudden shifts in consumer tastes and requirements, acquisitions and mergers among employers, and shifting business priorities and market dynamics virtually guarantee that nothing is permanent or even very long lasting. Not your job, not your employer, and increasingly, not even your career. To protect yourself, therefore, invest time continuously in:

  • monitoring the status of your employer and others that hire in your field. Be on the lookout for information and (credible) opinion that will help you evaluate their current health and future prospects as well as the caliber of opportunities they can or may be able to offer.
  • tapping into the latest data and analysis about your career field and industry. Use the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as well as any (non-sugarcoated) forecasts by your professional association and trade organization to determine their current health and future prospects.
  • Act as if your future depends on it (it does).

    With so much change underway in the world of work, job security no longer exists. Career security, however, does. It gives you to the capacity to achieve continuous employment in jobs that enable you to do your best work. And, the key to career security is mobility–not upward mobility on an employer’s career ladder, but personal mobility on your own career jungle gym. There is no set way to move across a jungle gym–you get to pick the direction–but the only sure way to achieve success is to keep moving. If you stop, you not only fail to make progress, but you foreclose options that are available at other positions along the way. To sustain your forward momentum, invest time regularly in:

  • developing two goals for your career–an achievement goal that will upgrade your performance in your current job and can be accomplished in the next 12-18 months and an advancement goal that will lead to a more challenging assignment either with your current employer or a new one and can be reached in the next 2-3 years.
  • giving yourself a makeover. Re-imagine yourself as a work-in-progress so you never stop acquiring the skills and knowledge necessary to accomplish your goals and create the future you want for yourself and your family.
  • Recent news reports indicate that many Americans are not currently saving and investing enough to prepare adequately for their retirement years. They continue such behavior because they don’t feel its impact, at least right now; the financial consequences won’t come due for a decade or more, when they finally leave the workforce. Engaging in the same kind of behavior in your career, however, will immediately impoverish your prospects in the workplace. It will bankrupt your ability to do your best work in the job you have today and to compete successfully for the jobs you’d like to have in the future. To avoid those outcomes, become a savvy career investor. Allocate the personal attention, time and effort your career deserves, and you’re much more likely to be rewarded with a huge gain in the satisfaction and the paycheck you bring home from work.

    Thanks for reading,


    P.S. Remember what you learned in kindergarten: It’s nice to share. Don’t keep WEDDLE’s to yourself. If you like our newsletter, please tell your friends and colleagues about it. They’ll appreciate your thinking of them. And, we will too!

    Section Two: Site News You Can Use

    Accountemps released the results of a recent survey regarding employer views on the optimal length of a candidate’s resume. It found that acceptance is growing for longer resumes. Better than four-out-of-ten (44%) of the employers in the poll said that they preferred a 2-page resume; ten years ago that figure was just 25 percent. Still, a majority (52%) thought that the best length for a resume was a single page, although that figure was down from 73% in 1997. Regardless of the length, however, the new reality is that employers know that your resume has been produced on a word processor, so they expect it to be tailored to their particular opening. The days of sending in a generic resume with a cover letter to do the tailoring are gone forever.

    The employment site formerly known as CollectionIndustry.com announced that it has changed its name to JobsInsideARM.com. The site was selected to appear in WEDDLE’s 2007/8 Guide to Employment Sites on the Internet. It serves job seekers and employers in the accounts receivable management (ARM) industry. Its services include a job database with openings that offer salaries up to $100K/year and a resume database where your credentials can be stored indefinitely.

    The book Make Money, Not Excuses, by Jean Chatzky, offered some tips for women when they find themselves making more money than their spouses. Apparently, such advice is necessary because research has shown that marriages tend to be happier when men earn more than their wives. Anyway, the author has these suggestions for the women who are the major breadwinners in their families:

  • “Be his biggest cheerleader.” The key, according to Chatsky, is that “You have to believe deep down that what your partner is bringing to the relationship is just as valuable as what you’re bringing.”
  • “Let him be your biggest cheerleader.” Share enough of your day with your spouse that he understands and appreciates what it is about your work that gives you the greatest satisfaction. If a pat on the back would be appreciated, make sure he knows when and why to do so.
  • “Focus on the ends, not the means.” Keep your relationship centered on your shared goals, whether they’re a comfortable retirement or an around-the-world cruise, and discuss paychecks and other contributions in their context.
  • While these pointers were directed at women, I think they can be equally as worthwhile for men. In fact, regardless of who brings home the biggest paycheck, a healthy, enduring relationship depends upon mutual respect and support for the work each person contributes.

    ZoomInfo introduced a new and free feature that can help with your research during a job search campaign. Historically, the only way to find detailed information on specific employers was to use a for-fee service or wade through thousands of documents filed on library shelves or listed by a search engine. Now, you can pinpoint in-depth information on over 3.5 million companies with the business information search engine at ZoomInfo. The tool will let you search the site’s company database by name, product category, industry, market niche and other factors and then review detailed descriptions of individual companies that include their revenue, the names and bios of key employees, their location(s), competitors, and even their recent acquisitions.

    WEDDLE’s introduced a new program designed especially for the frugal job seeker. Called Let Your Librarian Know, it will put the latest editions of WEDDLE’s publications into your hands without your having to put out a dime. How does the program work? All you have to do is make a telephone call to your local library. Most librarians appreciate their patrons’ suggestions about books they should add to their Reference collection. So, Let Your Librarian Know that you’d like to see WEDDLE’s publications on your library’s shelves right away. These publications are widely regarded for their accuracy and usefulness. In fact, the American Staffing Association has called WEDDLE’s “the Zagat of the online employment industry.” Its 2007/8 publications are:

  • WEDDLE’s 2007/8 Guide to Employment Sites on the Internet (ISBN 1928734421) Called the “consumer’s report” of job boards, this book provides full-page profiles of 350 of the best job boards in a range of occupations, industries and locations;
  • WEDDLE’s 2007/8 Directory of Employment-Related Internet Sites (ISBN 1928734405) Called the “address book” of job boards, this publication lists over 9,000 sites and organizes them by the occupational fields, industries and geographic locations on which they focus; and
  • WEDDLE’s 2007/8 Guide to Association Web Sites (ISBN 1928734413) Called the “key to the hidden job market online,” this book details the recruiting resources and capabilities that are provided at the Web-sites of over 1,900 associations and societies.
  • Section Three: Site Profiles

    Site Spotlite & from the pages of WEDDLE’s 2007/8 Guides and Directories

    There are 40,000 job boards now in operation in North America and an equal number operating elsewhere around the world. The key to a successful job search online, therefore, is knowing where to find and how to select the sites that will work best for you. WEDDLE’s 2007/8 Guide identifies 350 of the top sites worldwide and provides the information you need to determine which job boards will connect you with the openings that might just be your dream job. For example:



    Post full time jobs: Yes

    Post part time, contract or consulting jobs: Yes–All

    Distribution of jobs: National–USA

    Number of jobs: 2,050

    Salary levels of jobs: Up to $200K/year

    Offer a job agent: Yes

    Resume database: Yes

    How long are resumes stored: Indefinitely

    Restrictions on who can post: Must be in the securities or financial services industries

    Other services for job seekers: Career information, Links to other sites with job search/career resources

    Member, International Association of Employment Web Sites: Yes