There's a big mistake that 99% of employees are making and they don't even know it. This mistake is being made primarily by people who are new in their career, but it's also being made by veterans who see the writing on the wall but are ignoring the signs and symptoms. The big mistake is the false sense of security employees are establishing in their careers. It's not their fault, though. As kids we're asked in Kindergarten, “What do you want to be when you grow up?" This question is no longer applicable nor should it be allowed to be asked, especially in the context of white collar jobs. As we go through life, graduate from high school, and head off to college, this antiquated and false sense of security is pushed even further, as colleges and universities try to narrow the lane students fit in. In the real world, things don't work like that. In the real world in 2014 and beyond, you can no longer establish a career based on a single field. Your employer doesn't need 100 people who are experts in one particular field. They need 100 people who are Jacks-Of-All-Trades. They need people who understand and can speak the lingo across teams and across departments. It's very important that this issue be stressed because millions of 18 and 23 year olds are graduating from high school and college looking to jump into the fast-paced world of business, thinking they're going to build long-term careers in fields like marketing, public relations, advertising, social media, and so on, and what they don't realize is that those fields are constantly disrupted. They constantly evolve and change. The problem with this change is that it leaves the employee vulnerable to losing their job as their chosen field may eventually become obsolete. So, here's the formula for success:
- Establish expertise in as many connected fields as possible. Instead of just specializing in social media, diversify your skills in traditional marketing, SEO, PPC, PR, business development, and so on.
- Gain as much experience as possible in all related fields.
- Continue your education for the rest of your life. This shouldn't be confused with college, as college doesn't define education, it's just a component and an option. Your education is the attainment of new knowledge and skills. However, you go about capturing this information, make sure you continue doing it for the rest of your life.
- Climb the ladder. As you continue through your career, never allow yourself to become complacent. When you see opportunity, grab it and take charge. If opportunity doesn't present itself, jump ship and set sail for a new job.
- Exhibit value. Value is all that matters. This is why being a Jack-Of-All-Trades is so critical in today's constantly evolving and competitive job market. Employers care about value. Your college degree is fine, but don't over-index on its importance. You'll set yourself up for a very big let down. Value lets an employer know that they're getting their money's worth, so the more value you can provide an employer by virtue of your skillset, the more likely you are to build true job security.