No matter if you are happy in your current role, faced with unemployment, or foresee organizational restructures looming, the New Year is a great time to define your your path for what’s next…your parachute plan. Individuals with decade-spanning careers have common threads: they stay relevant and are hands-on. Spend some time contemplating your talents, wishes, and capabilities to prepare your plan.
A parachute plan prepares you for the unexpected and helps you strive toward your goals and aspirations. You will breathe a bit easier in facing obstacles and frustrations with a fresh perspective knowing that the 9-5 isn’t your only game. If you do need your parachute plan, you pull some strings and you’re free. Here’s some tips:
- Seek out company-provided training (typically free) or certifications within your financial reach. Online certifications are less expensive than intensive MBA programs. Local libraries are treasure troves of relevant software and business training—you’d be surprised.
- Look for ways to contribute beyond your assigned role. Volunteer to run lunch and learns to share your expertise (you’ll grab experience in Keynote), write blog posts to share your expertise and perspectives (you’ll build up your social profile), mentor fresh new hires (what a way to stay current….), or develop training materials. Being creative in thinking of ways to offer and contribute your talents will build and enhance your skills.
- Think of how you present yourself. If you’re feeling trapped in a negative work atmosphere because of your salary, flexibility, or benefits the organization provides to you or your family, write down new ways to shift your perspective to the value you provide your organization. Companies tend to hire (and promote from within) those with a positive demeanor. Any scent of negativity you cast during your tenure or job interviews will be detected.
- Craft case studies and use those as a framework for a new, digital, relevant portfolio. WordPress and SquareSpace are awesome sites to venture into and explore if design isn’t your forte. Portfolios are not just for creatives. Marketing executives who include visual samples and case studies on their LinkedIn profiles are effectively translating their hands-on communications abilities.
- Play up and accentuate your hands-on capabilities in your resume and LinkedIn profile. While it’s absolutely valuable to discuss your high-level strategy, budgetary experience, and team leadership abilities, demonstrating your ability to be hands-on and produce positively monetizes your background for your current and future organization.
- Mock up a business plan. If you haven’t professionally freelanced or comprised an income based on independent contracting, carve out some time to consider what you would need to bill on a weekly basis to cover your budget. If optimizing blog sites is part of your parachute plan, think about how many sites you’d need combined with how many billable hours you’d require as an independent contractor to make a viable income. Putting some Excel behind your plan helps you understand your plan’s viability.
- Stay in trend with fashion and appearance. It’s uncomfortable for me to write that without feeling trite or cliché—but our industry is appearance focused and it’s certainly important to stay in step to your comfort level with what is out there.
Developing a parachute plan is a powerful step as your career progresses. Taking ownership of your destiny is a route to empowerment and unshackling yourself to an organization. Setting your path helps you feel in control. Let’s discuss your strategy—I’m here for you!