3 Career Planning Strategies For The Jobless Recovery

Responsible Careers:  As a responsible professional, you might wonder what career planning strategies you can use to navigate the jobless recovery we are experiencing.  After all, estimates from the US Department of Labor indicate that over 8 million jobs were lost in the US since the Great Recession started in December of 2007.  Recovery might be underway, as indicated by the US Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of 5.6 percent in the last quarter of 2009 and of 3.2 percent during the first quarter of 2010.  But are we out of the woods?  Not really.  In fact, the latest numbers released by the US Department of Labor indicated that the current unemployment rate in the US is 9.7, with only 41,000 permanent jobs added in May.  Moreover, unemployment duration reached over six months late last year.  This is the longest unemployment duration observed since the measure started to be recorded in 1948. These numbers strengthen the possibility that the US is in a jobless recovery, and experts predict that it will take at least 2 years to recoup the jobs lost to the Great Recession.

In the current climate, you might be wondering what strategies you can implement to build your career as a responsible leader that get business done - better.  What can you do to both align your values with your paycheck and what can you do to make your responsible career more downturn resistant?  Here are 3 strategies you can use to position yourself well for your next responsible career move:

Have a clear career direction - An elevator pitch is designed to outline what you want to do next and why you would be good at it.  Your elevator pitch is a key element to your career planning strategy.  Indeed, your elevator pitch is not only something you can deliver at cocktail parties, it is also a constant reminder to yourself of the professional goal that you are trying to achieve.  Your elevator pitch does not need to be a grand plan for the next 20 years of your career.  Instead, I would recommend that you craft your elevator pitch around the types of projects you would like to be involved in within the next 12-18 months.  A typical elevator pitch might look like 'I want to build upon my 5 years experience in project management and secure a product management position in a Fortune 500 company that has a strong commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility'.  This is so broad that few people will know how to help you when hearing your pitch.  Instead, I would recommend something along the lines of 'Over the last 6 months, I integrated my passion for environmental change with my 5 years experience in project management, and helped the local middle school reduce its energy consumption by 14% annually.  In my next position, I would love to contribute to develop products and manage projects that maximize profits while minimizing the company's environmental impact'.  The more specific you are in your elevator pitch, the more people around you can connect you with relevant resources and contacts.  Note also that the more you can show that you have already generated measurable environmental (or social) impact, the easier it will be for you to establish yourself as a responsible leader through your elevator pitch.

Continuously learn new things - Demonstrating your thirst to continuously learn new ways to do things and changing how you do your job based on new training will make you indispensable to your employer.  Opportunities to do so through formal or informal training are endless.  For example, if you are currently employed, look into the training workshops offered by your company that can help you refine or expand your skill set.  You can also look into online training offered by professional associations.  If you are currently seeking a new job, one of the best career planning strategies is to volunteer your time.  Help non-profits or local small businesses with relevant projects.  These projects will help you learn new ways to package your skills and will also enable you to make new contacts that might lead to your next job.

Stay positive - The best about recessions is that they end.  The most powerful career planning strategy that you can implement right now is to remain upbeat and deliver 110% work for any project you are in charge of.  Around colleagues, don't fuel the 'despair talks', and instead channel your can-do attitude to become a contributor that can motivate others towards a goal.  True leaders emerge in tough times, and your positive attitude will pay dividends no matter what state the economy is in.

Career planning strategies that include (1) clearly articulating your career direction, (2) learning new things, and (3) staying positive are sure to help you navigate the jobless recovery more easily.  What other career planning strategies would you suggest to fellow responsible career professionals?

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