Magazine article Communication World

Piloting Your Career through Turbulent Economic Seas

Magazine article Communication World

Piloting Your Career through Turbulent Economic Seas

Article excerpt

Piloting your career through turbulent economic seas

In today's world, the business communicator's career is like a ship being tossed by turbulent seas. Mergers, hostile takeovers, downsizings, the savings and loan crisis, and layoffs are factors contributing to these stormy waters. In addition, baby boomers, those people born between 1946 and 1964, are an occupationally restless group. Security and a good paycheck are not enough to satisfy them. They have and will continue to have the tendency to change jobs and even career fields often. In light of these trends, careers can capsize and sink unless sound planning measures are undertaken.

Career planning is a skill that can be learned. Historically many people have engaged in career planning using what can best be described as the "dart" approach. Imagine a dartboard with several careers in communication adhered to it. Then imagine someone throwing a dart at the board. Whatever career area is hit by the dart is the one that is pursued. Obviously this is not exactly how it happens. Nevertheless, variations of this method are used, including the one where you look through the newspaper at random seeking jobs that sound appealing. This method is risky and not very productive in the long run. People usually put more thought into planning their vacations than in planning their careers.

So how can the professional communicator engage in productive career planning? First and foremost, it is important to get in touch with your dreams. While it is important to be practical in planning careers, most people actually err on the side of being practical. Career planning is a whole-brained activity. Start by getting in touch with the right side, which is the intuitive, creative part of your brain.

Step one

Imagine what your ideal career day would be like, and write it down on a piece of paper. This technique is extremely powerful, so try it now. Pretend that you have no constraints such as time or money, which can cause you to worry and can alter your thinking from the creative side. Describe your job duties, hours, people you work with, and anything you feel is important. Don't analyze or be critical. Once you are finished writing out your dream career, you can go back and analyze and look for clues. One woman who did this exercise wrote that she wanted to be president of the United States. In analyzing what she wrote, she realized that her fantasy of being president reflected her need to lead and direct others. One man saw himself as a busy consultant who was writing books, publishing a national newsletter, and giving advice to CEOs of medium-sized companies in a variety of industries. In analyzing what he wrote, he determined three important priorities for his entrepreneurship. Give yourself time to think about what you wrote. As you continue to do your career planning, the significance of what you wrote will become clear.

Step two

The next step in career planning is to get to know yourself. As you mature, you change, and it is important to be in touch with new aspects of yourself. Think of the self as a jigsaw puzzle. When the pieces are put together, a pattern will emerge. There are several aspects of the self to consider regarding one's career. One important aspect of the self is personality. For instance, if you are an analytical person who also is an introvert, you will be happier in a different type of communication job than the bubbly extrovert. There are several excellent personality tests that can give you some valuable insight. Examples of the good inventories include The Performax Personal Profile, John Holland Self-Directed Search, and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Many colleges and universities have career centers that administer these and other tests.

Your values are another aspect of the self that you will want to consider. The term "values" does not refer to ethics, but instead refers to what is important to you. …

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