Are You Committing Career Malpractice?

Do you know X? I noticed a job posting and when I checked the company, it showed that you had connections there. Let me know if you know her.

Like you, I get these from friends from time-to-time as they see job postings and LinkedIn shows a connection.

However, in this recent note, when I checked, I found I was connected but did not know the person directly. I reached back to my friend telling her I would send a note on her behalf. I asked that she send me a copy of her CV and a link to the job description.

Her response: “Oh, you have to give me some time as I need to update it.” Knowing this person and that she has been out of work for a while, caused me to pause and sigh….

Career malpractice

In the business climate today, any person working in an organization must — at all times — be as prepared as possible. Every day people all over the world are getting the call, the email or the invite for a “conversation.” It may be a layoff, a restructuring or whatever, but the message is the same: You’re out of a job. It will happen to most of us; it’s only a matter of time.

You are committing career malpractice by not being prepared.

My old employer IBM went through one of these “restructurings,” laying off thousands of people. Those employees — some of them let go after careers with IBM that spanned decades — saw their jobs either given to less-experienced and lower-paid workers or sent overseas.

The cuts coincided with IBM’s transition to a business centered around cloud services and data analytics. Apparently, that shift made IBM feel compelled to reach a “correct seniority mix” and “shift headcount mix towards a greater percentage of early professional hires,” according to published reports of presentations shown to senior executives at the company — including the VP of human resources.

VUCA affects us, too

In today’s VUCA climate strategy changes, products are realigned and innovation or the lack thereof cause tremors throughout an organization. The net result is that “adjustments” will be made to the workforce. It appears that the workforce is the “go to” for those corrections. Likewise, VUCA now applies to us. Buckle up for the roller coaster, if not now, then coming soon to a career that could be yours.

In light of the above, it behoves every one to think of what is next — even if you are engaged, loving your organization and all of its intrinsic or extrinsic values. Just as an organization has a growth strategy, each of us should also have a growth strategy. Where are we headed, how are we adjusting?

What is your career strategic plan?

For too many people, this is where they get that “deer in the headlights” look.

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My advice is this:

  • Reflect and evaluate – Start by considering both the current situation and what the future may be. If the future is cloudy, this is where the reflection comes in. This is the first step in the journey because you need to decide on some destination. Even if it is not a definite, at least you are moving in a direction. The destination will probably change, but that is OK; you are moving forward.
  • Exploration — Explore and research your options once you have decided where you are headed. Explore your personal interests, skills, values, and work-life needs, which will help you narrow down the possibilities.
  • Goal setting — As an organization has monthly, quarterly and yearly targets, we should do the same, then regularly pulse where we are. The measurement stick is yours to create. Basically, you want to make sure the needle is moving
  • Prepare — Always, and I mean ALWAYS, have your LinkedIn profile and your CV up-to-date. If you finish a project, win an award, make a speech etc., make sure to update your “billboard” as I call LinkedIn. Always make sure that you could send your CV out on a moment’s notice.

I know to some of you this may sound a little corporate, but you know what, in today’s climate, you have no other choice. VUCA is not only for corporations, it is also for each of us to understand and navigate for our own wellbeing.

I am sure some of my former colleagues at IBM wish they would have had a little more foresight.

Ron Thomas

Ron Thomas is Managing Director, Strategy Focused Group DWC LLC, based in Dubai. He is also a senior faculty member and representative of the Human Capital Institute covering the MENA/Asia Pacific region.

He was formerly CEO of Great Place to Work-Gulf and former CHRO based in Riyadh. He holds certifications from the Human Capital Institute as Global Human Capital Strategist, Master Human Capital Strategist, and Strategic Workforce Planner.

He's been cited by CIPD as one of the top 5 HR Thinkers in the Middle East. He received the Outstanding Leadership Award for Global HR Excellence at the World Human Resources Development Congress in Mumbai, and was named as one of the 50 Most Talented Global HR Leaders in Asia

Ron's prior roles included senior HR positions with Xerox HR services, IBM, and Martha Stewart Living.

Board memberships include the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council, McKinsey Quarterly's Executive Online Panel, and HCI's Expert Advisory Council on Talent Management Strategy.

His work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine, Workforce Management and numerous international HR magazines covering Africa, India and the Middle East.