Career Damage Control

Recently I stumbled across a primer on common career management misconceptions. Managing your career isn’t rocket science, but it is challenging to get in front of, and drive, your career rather than finding yourself reacting to a trigger event. The author says …

Most people do not believe in career management, they only believe in career damage control – which means when something goes wrong they will fix it. Until then, most people don’t bother to manage their careers to prevent disasters from occurring in the first place.

Isn’t that a truism for many of the problems / challenges we face. As long as it’s small and isn’t causing pain, it either doesn’t make the To Do list or it keeps being recycled from one day to the next. It’s only when the pain becomes unbearable that we decided to do anything about it, and then the solution seems monumental. We’re now in reactive, rather than proactive, mode … running hard to try to get in front of the boulder that is threatening to flatten us.

With my finance executives, I find that they are usually so focused on the job that they shelve any thought of long term career management. For today, they have a job, usually an all-consuming job, and getting through the problems, challenges, issues, and situations for “that” particular day are key. Pretty soon, weeks or months or years have passed and the one thing that funds everything else in your life is either in jeopardy or gone … your job. And suddenly, you’re in damage control mode.

It is much, much more difficult to launch a job search when you are unemployed. It’s just a fact. Even if you put aside a company’s / recruiter’s preference for the “passive” candidate, unemployment brings worry, fear, frustration, anxiety, sometimes anger, and even desperation – none of which are attractive in a job search candidate!

As challenging as it might seem to add one more appointment to your already crazy schedule, it is the one way to ensure you drive your career decisions. The reality is that your only security is producing a bottom line that keeps your Board, CEO, and shareholders happy. And sometimes, even that isn’t enough.