AJO Blog

Investing In Your Career - How to Stay Marketable and Avoid Job Loss


January 13th, 2016
In our last three posts, (start here to review all three), we explored six key factors that determine how long a job search will take. This follow up blog will be of interest to those who want to manage and thrive in their chosen career field. Specifically, we’ll cover:
  • Steps you can take to proactively manage your career to minimize, if not avoid job loss
  • Recommended resources for managing your career, including resources for assessing the job market and opportunities in your current and related career fields

career management


Proactive Career Management

As we proposed in our last blog, while you cannot control labor market conditions, there are some steps you can take to moderate its impact and reduce the time to land your next position, should you find yourself unexpectedly unemployed. To proactively manage your career:  
  1. Understand and assess the importance of adding value in your current organization. It’s not a guarantee of job security, but it can strengthen your position during a downsizing. In the event of unavoidable job loss, you’ll be more market ready to describe how you have added value. A recent guest blog from a senior HR professional tackles this subject and is an important read.

    Annually, take time to document your key accomplishments and newly acquired skills and assess their organizational impact (i.e., in a quantifiable way). Although written for job seekers, this post offers a great checklist to Track and Leverage Your Accomplishments.

    It's also important to learn how to speak about your accomplishments in a way that is sincere and yet ensures your contributions are known. (See Brag: The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing It" in the resources section below.)

  2. Grow your network. Most program participants with whom we work have a limited network that does not extend beyond connections in their current organization.

    Maintain and develop your network in a proactive way through industry and professional associations. This includes attending conferences, seminars and webinars, meeting fellow professionals for breakfast, lunch or virtually to share ideas and information and learn what they are doing. Join and participate in LinkedIn Groups. Subscribe to relevant journals and online communities. Having a strong network outside your current organization will jump start your career transition and put you weeks ahead of where you might otherwise start.

  3. Build your skills. Learn what top skills are demanded of professionals in your field; keep abreast of trends in your field and industry and identify opportunities to build relevant in demand skills. We include ideas and resources below for achieving this.
Just as you should spend time on your financial plan each year, take time to invest in your career. This includes setting career goals and making ongoing adjustments as demanded by the market - both your organization and the broader labor market. 

Recommended Resources

To Research the Market

  • CareerOneStop is a great place to start. Check out occupational profiles and industry trends (state and national) to assess the outlook for your field and industry.   
  • Indeed Job Trends. This job aggregator charts the number of postings over time by job, industry and location. Start by drilling down in your relevant industries and then enter your keywords in the job trends search box to assess the demand trend in your field. Try entering skills too (E.g., Java or "Big Data").
  • Occupational Outlook Handbook. The 2016–17 Handbook includes 329 occupational profiles covering 576 detailed occupations, or about 83 percent of total employment in 2014. Each occupational profile describes what workers do, where they work, typical education and training requirements, wages, job outlook, state and area data, and contacts for more information. You can learn more here.
  • Using a SWOT Analysis in Your Career Planning. A SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis is a tool used in the strategic planning process. However, it can also be applied to career planning, as this post demonstrates. Use this tool to capture trends you identify in the labor market or your organization that can present as opportunities or threats; as well as to examine your strengths and development needs (the internal environment).
  • Wanted Analytics. Much of the amazing data is subscription based and targeted at hiring employers, but occupations are featured on this section of their website. For example, this post covers demand and skills for HR professionals.

To Grow Your Network

  • Brag!: The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn without Blowing It by Peggy Klaus. Don't let the title put you off. Business coach Klaus explains why you need to learn the art of self-promotion (how to present your best self with pride and passion) in today's business world. Download her "Take 12" Self-Evaluation which serves as the starting point for crafting your "brag bites" (snippets of impressive information) and let her show you how to sincerely and artfully communicate your talents.
  • Never Eat Alone, Expanded and Updated: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time by Keith Ferrazzi  and Tahl Raz. Ferrazzi’s distinguishes genuine relationship-building from the more superficial form of “networking” typically encountered today. He explains his approach to connecting with people using practical, proven principles.
  • LinkedIn is a powerful networking platform of 400 million professionals that you can leverage to stay connected to current contacts, as well as to grow your network. Tap the LinkedIn Blog to stay up to date with platform enhancements and be sure to invest time weekly learning and using both new and old features and functions.

    If you are in career transition or browsing LinkedIn job postings, check out the powerful new tools that allow you to assess your competition for an opening, how you compare, and who you know inside the organization. While you’ll need a premium account to tap these new tools, you can take advantage of a free one month trial to check them out.  

To Build Your Skills

  • 30 Websites That Will Make You Unbelievably Smarter 30 of the best sites for professional and personal development. Learn as an individual or connect your team.
  • 37 Best Websites for Learning a New Skill from Kristyna Zapletalova
  • Coursera provides access to online courses from top universities and organizations - both free and fee-based. See Enhance Your Career and Employability Skills which is an example of a free course, designed to help you learn how to make effective decisions about your future career and how to take control of your professional development by honing your critical thinking and employability skills. Suitable for anyone undertaking some form of study, regardless of academic discipline, interests or employment background. Browse the catalog for hundreds of specializations and courses in business, computer science, data science, and more.
  • Time to Update Your Skills? Check out CareerOneStop’s resources and ideas for building your skills. This includes tools for finding a Professional Association where you can stay up-to-date with trends in your field. Many national organizations have local chapters to join and you might also read journal articles and attend a conference or workshop. Also check out the Tools & Technology Finder to look up the most common tools or types of technology used in hundreds of occupations.