Congratulations! You made it past the resolution-ready days of early January, and are sailing into prime time for your career ambitions.
To smooth that path, I have a video treat for you. My guest Joanne Cleaver, has an uber-impressive background as a writer for The Chicago Tribune, Working Woman, Entrepreneur, and other publications. She has just come out with a book,
The Career Lattice: Combat Brain Drain, Improve Company Culture, and Attract Top Talent. If you are expecting your career to sweep you off your feet in the coming year, then press “play” to hear our conversation.
FYI, underneath the video is a synopsis of our conversation, so don’t ditch me in the middle of watching if you prefer text. Following the transcript, I offer links to the digital candy that will enable you to implement the technology just as I have, to create split-screen videos and use web-based tools to self-publish.
Mojo40: What exactly do you mean by a career lattice? What is that concept?
Joanne Cleaver: We traditionally think of advancing your career as a straight upward trajectory like a ladder. However, in an era of slow growth and flattened organizations, you need to think about going over as well as going up. Strategic lateral moves will help you gain skills, broaden your experience, and expand your networks so you are positioned for several types of future jobs.
By getting several types of experiences while you are in your current position, you open up opportunities for different jobs in the next 6 to 18 months.
Mojo40: I loved your example of Ursula Burns, who became the first African-American woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company. She used this concept of a career lattice to transfer into different functions at Xerox, and eventually she had enough corporate mentors on her side to rise to CEO.
Mojo40: How can a person make a first move on the lattice, especially if the boss is clueless about one’s aspirations?
Joanne: Be very self-aware as you are making these steps, and track your progress so you can explain it to your current or future boss. Look at the trends and growth drivers for your industry over the next 6 to 12 months. Review what your top brass are telling the street and translate that back to your position. Look for an opportunity to join a team or a project – perhaps take the place of someone on short-term leave – and say you would like to run point for a while.
Remember, it is not just about you, it’s about you in the context of your company’s needs.
Keep a diary of your steps so you can explain how you got on a team, which will form your own case study for an interview or cover letter.
Mojo40: If you want to make a lateral move, how would you detect what’s a good move?
Joanne: Look at what you are naturally good at and the emerging trends that will frame up the demand for talent.
An example from my own life: I’ve been a business journalist who is transitioning to a communications consulting and coaching role. From my earlier work, I knew how hard it is to get a source to give you a concise quote. I saw an opportunity training clients to condense large research reports into concise talking points. I took additional training and gained technical skills for constructing and organizing webinars. Now I have a format for putting my IP (intellectual property) across in a way that I can sell to those who need this training.
A further example from the book: An accountant at a public accounting firm made a transition to marketing in the media and entertainment field. She condensed an array of options into a manageable number by answering the question, “Should I stay with my technical skills or pursue another industry as a generalist?”
Going for the latter option, she left the CPA firm and joined a media outfit on the basis of her accounting credential and technical skills. She was still an accountant, so it was a lateral move. But she got involved with an association, volunteering for marketing responsibilities.
She showed results with these projects, i.e., she could not only keep track of money but also make money.
She demonstrated business development skills, networking, and expanding the group’s sphere of influence.
Back at her day job, she joined a couple of projects, got to know folks in other departments, and two years after she started this process, the right job came up. Because she showed results and had taken small deliberate steps, she was able to move into that position.
Mojo40: I know someone who moved in the opposite direction, from marketing to being an entrepreneur insurance agent, but whichever path you are on, The Career Lattice should open your mind to the wisdom of planning your next career move with intention.
- Look at the intersection between where your company wants to be and what you offer, and identify a few potential “lattice” moves.
- Regardless of what trends you identify, just dipping your hand into technology is one of your very best moves to ensure you are ready for the hottest jobs of the future: In all cases, they will require someone who is willing and able to learn and adapt.
- Explore the web-based tools that I have used to make this post. 1-I used Ecamm‘s Call Recorder for Skype with the user interface set like the illustration below; 2-I used Vimeo, as it allows faster uploads of higher-quality videos than what is possible on YouTube; 3-I used the Viper’s Video Quicktags plugin for WordPress.
- If you find it painful to try something new, learn to explore the various help forums tucked into these sites to troubleshoot. It is amazing what you can do, once you get started.
Drawing of the exiting brains via Creative Commons 2.0, theps.net.
What has worked for you in terms of expanding your network and gaining the visibility you need to move up in your career? Share in the comments.
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