Management expert Don Andersson says there's no such thing as job security these days. Unfortunately, I don't think many of us would argue he's wrong.
Despite that, many of us still live and work under the "company store" mentality, that is, "If we work hard, we'll always have a job."
"With the company store mentality you let the company take care of your career. Now you have to take care of it from Day 1," he says.
Andersson argues that in today's marketplace, every full-time employee needs to take charge of their career and act as if they're really a freelancer for their company.
"You become not a job holder anymore, but you're really in a resource business. You need to recognize you have competitors and figure out how to position yourself to get ahead," he says.
For instance, if you were a self-employed freelancer or consultant who contracts out to other companies, you'd probably be constantly reading books and taking classes or seminars to sharpen and improve your skills. If you didn't stay on top of the learning curve, you wouldn't get much work.
Andersson says that's exactly the way you should handle your career, especially if you're a full-time employee of a company. "We need to treat ourselves as we're a mini-business or an entrepreneur as opposed to a lifer who just takes up space," he says.
For an example, Andersson points to classical musicians or athletes, professionals who are constantly investing in themselves and their skills with personal coaches or instructors to improve themselves.
"And they pay for it themselves because they know there's always somebody out there waiting in the wings to take their spot," he says. "You really have to do things to discipline yourself and say 'What are the skills I'm really good at and what do I need to keep honing? What kind of game plan do I have for my career this year and how much have I set aside to invest in my career?' "
Just because your company's training budget has been cut is no reason to stop learning, Andersson says. He advocates all professionals should set aside a portion of their personal budget for career-specific improvement to further their skills.
Next time, we'll cover the skills Andersson says are most important in today's workplace, as well as what steps you can take to start assuring your career success. In the meantime, check out this free resource guide and how-to on the subject, written by Andersson: http://www.anderssongroup.com/h7.asp