My take on Career Entrepreneurship

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     There are many reasons to take your career seriously but I wanted to share a concept I came across 18 months ago that makes managing that a little more clear. In a conversation with an Assistant Dean at one of the local Universities, Sam White spoke to me about Career Entrepreneurship. It’s the concept of managing one’s career, almost like a business. This may sound dry or too corporate but this strategy can apply to almost any career path. Here is my take on it…

     In managing a business, an owner needs to be conscious of who their audience is and what the demand is for their commodity/product/service/experience*. Being able to satisfy that demand and reach into new markets is how organizations pay the bills. Pretty basic. But how can one do the same with their career? Use similar principals such as differentiation, growth and marketing.

     Differentiation: With so many choices out there, why would a person choose Starbucks over Peet’s or Caribou? Each has a different approach to doing the same type of business like theme, product quality, or core values. You as a job seeker are the same. There may be many similar applicants with similar training but who you are is what makes you different. It’s important to know what value you have and bring to the table, that’s what stands out on an application or interview. Use this to your advantage, discover why you’re different and what personal traits you have that others don’t.

     Growth: Life is change and as long as we are alive, we can continue to grow. So what do we want to do once we land this position? Is another degree or certificate necessary? Perhaps a promotion is a target goal. Whatever it may be, it’s important to have an idea of where to go next. Otherwise one can get stagnant and lose momentum. Have you ever wanted to make a change but not sure where to go? That is common (been there myself) but to move forward you should probably have an idea of what possibilities there are. If you don’t know then you could ask someone in that field or talk to someone in a career center or job development agency. Rely on your network to help keep you energized, sometimes we need people’s help and by talking about these possibilities it can give you that spark you need.

     Marketing: This is a way to keep your professional self out there. We’re aware of many products out there because there are messages like TV commercials, magazine ads and billboards to raise awareness. You can do the same for yourself with social media including blogs, Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. What you put out there is visible to others and if you craft your message tactfully and tastefully you can gain a following of like minded people. Utilize things like this that you already do to help portray what you want without too much extra effort. If you do go this route I’d suggest doing some research on personal branding, there are many professionals out there that have made businesses out if it.

     These are 3 things you can do to help manage your career more closely. The thing I like about it is that you take control over it instead of letting someone else decide for you. I’m a strong advocate of self control and one’s career has plenty of room for this. It also gives you a fighting chance in a tight economy. Better to adapt to the times than to wonder what happened to you. It’s your life and your path, make what you can out of it!

*I cite experience as something salable after reading “The Experience Economy” by B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore.  Great read!
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