Author: John Ryan

Just as CEOs lead companies, we each assumed the chief executive role for our own careers the minute we stepped out into the working world. In that capacity, we have to protect and nurture our interests and prospects, just like the big guys do.

This is no small task. We enact this work in a landscape of constant, fast-paced change. To remain engaged and relevant players, companies have to be hip to the evolutionary pulse that drives growth in their industries.

Failure to anticipate change can be catastrophic. The plummeting values of taxicab medallions is one demonstration. Medallions give drivers ownership of their cabs. At the height of their value, their worth was on par with home values. Operators cherished them as the anchor of their livelihood and the seed of their retirement savings. The bubble burst on medallion values when new players like Uber and Lyft changed the industry.

As CEO of the professional enterprise that is you, don’t be left holding medallions. Finesse your career prospects so you’re positioned to evolve in a sphere where there’s room to grow. At some point in your career, this may mean targeting an industry that has richer prospects than the one you’ve come to know.

Sure, it’s a risk, but you want to cash out your medallions before their value crashes. Here’s what to keep in mind as you tool your reinvention:

Flexibility is key

You may find yourself positioned in an industry that’s in the sputtering phase of its life cycle: the paper industry, for example, that was thriving yesterday has given way to the digital industry that is thriving now. If rounds of layoffs haunt your workplace, even in a strong economic climate with low unemployment, then there’s reason for concern.

As you contemplate a change, having the right mindset is key. It’s important to have realistic expectations; for example, you may not get the compensation bump that you could have expected if your current industry was still thriving. You may need to make a lateral move or even accept a drop in position or salary.

The element of risk you’re inviting may come with a cost, but exchanging a fast-growing company for one that seems to have plateaued in its lifecycle can make the risk pan out in your favor over time. You’re better positioned to thrive for the long haul by taking this risk, even if you have to pay some dues. It sets you up for broader success than staying in a comfort zone that is deteriorating around you.

Heed cultural cues

Culture matters. It can be nourishing and thrilling; it can be defeating and stressful. Culture hugely impacts your experience.

Company culture is colored by the economy. Currently, that picture is positive. Many professional cultures are reverberating with this news, making for a nice experience for staff: Industries are growing. Resources, fun, and rewards abound.

In other corporate cultures, though, the boon hasn’t offset struggle. The retail sector, for example, is experiencing a climate of uncertainty. Established names like Sears and GE are getting sold off in pieces.

A negative vibe and a siege mentality tend to permeate such cultures. Employees are trying to weigh their career ambitions against their feelings of loyalty towards their employers.
Company loyalty is important. But if your job is at stake you have to go into CEO mode and make the decision that is best for the corporation you.

Network

According to LinkedIn data generated in 2016, 70 percent of new hires had a contact at the company where they secured employment. Your network is an excellent resource. Send out the alert that you’re on the market. See who you know and where they’re positioned. Ask questions. Build momentum. Learn what you need to about positions and industries you’re targeting.

Tell the right story

Losing a job or losing fit due to decline in the industry can be difficult, but these developments can also help seed your reinvention. Your severance pay can fuel this ambition, and you can use skills that perhaps were not necessary for your past role to leverage your future success. You get to decide how to strategize this and how to spin it. Change gives you the chance to see your experience, skill set and goals from a different vantage point. That’s empowering. Use the momentum.

When HR professionals are reviewing materials to access potential fit, they look to see if you have experience enacting the functions they need. If they are looking for a PR specialist or a licensed mechanical engineer, they are likely to recruit candidates who’ve done the job. If the setting is different but the competencies are the same, that often bodes well for fit.

It may be a cultural shift, but you can tell the story of how being a change agent is a comfortable role for you, once you’re ready to embrace again.

Transition is powerful

Transition, timed right, is powerful. As the shot caller of your own professional enterprise, you have to be bold, brave, energized. Enact your decisions when you see what’s coming, not after it’s here. Enact foresight not afterthought.

Albert Einstein famously remarked: “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.”

You deserve a job that has a lush potential for future growth. It’s waiting for you. Go out there and grab it.