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Take a Campaign Approach to Career Moves


How To Chart Your Job Search Strategy

Is there a career move in your future? If so, consider the idea of the campaign, and the verb, to campaign. The concept of the campaign might generate for you images of iconic advertising campaigns, historical military campaigns and even memorable political campaigns. Campaigning is about picking a winnable objective and then devising the strategy and tactics to achieve that end. When you campaign, you mobilize your resources towards your end goal. In the realm of managing our careers, building our brands and making career transitions, my observation is that the concepts of job search and interviews and resumes have become so commonplace as to lose site of the big picture. And that is, that you have defined an end goal you are trying to reach, and are pursuing an intentional strategy to achieve that objective. That is the essence of a bold career project. You moving forward with intention in your professional journey.

When is it time to Campaign?  

In my opinion, the litmus test is competition.

Every time you decide to make a career move of some form, whether you care to or not, you are engaging in a competitive process.

  • You compete against other potential candidates

  • You compete for the decision maker's time and attention

  • Your own time and attention is a scarce resource

  • And you are likely competing for financial resources (money spent on you takes away from money somewhere else).

Here are some examples of career moves:

Internal Moves

Possibility of a promotion in your current organization? Want to be assigned to a key project?

Focused Job Search

Are you in an active job search, or thinking about starting to look? Spotted a company or specific job you want?

Career Change

Want to move into a new industry, new role / profession? Trying to figure out where and how you can use your talents? Or how to transfer your existing professional offering to something new?

Build your Brand

Have an idea you are incubating? Looking to develop a name for yourself in your niche domain? These are all situations that call for a strategy around an end goal. They call for a campaign.

Consider the Alternative

Using the examples above, if you aren’t campaigning for what you want in these situations, what exactly are you doing? Hoping? Flailing? To illustrate, let’s look at a typical job search. I am not far off when I describe the activity of the average job searcher as follows:

  • The individual develops a decision, or more often, inclination to look for a new job

  • Perhaps some basic thought is given to what the next job might be

  • Resume updated. Perhaps a few changes to LinkedIn profile

  • Applications made to online jobs with the hope that an interview invitation will be forthcoming

  • When (and if) an interview invitation does arrive, a scramble to prepare for some basic interview questions and do “research” on the company (quick, what are my weaknesses?)

  • Accept the first job offer that meets or exceeds desired salary, or relieves the pain of their current job

That’s all well and good. But it doesn’t sound very intentional. Or strategic. And I don’t mind stating for the record that I think it is a very haphazard approach to tinkering with an essential element of our life, one that plays a major role in financial security, happiness, sense of purpose and meaning, social interaction and overall wellness.

Going Forward

So, my personal challenge to you as you navigate or plan your bold career projects is to consider the campaign.

Get inspired

Take notes from campaigns that have resonated with you over the years.

Get resourced

Find the resources and expertise to help you craft the right campaign for you.

Get focused

Knowing where and where not to focus your resources is critical. The campaign is a very intentional, strategic and energized effort utilizing people, materials, money and ideas. Normally, a campaign is supposed to end, either when won, lost, or an alternative outcome has been reached. This is certainly the case for a lot of specific, point-in-time career moves. However, depending on the project, your campaign may be ongoing, involving building more reach, more expertise, a bigger and better body of work.

Consider me and the Bold Career Project your aide de camp, your campaign strategist, and one of your biggest supporters. Crafting campaigns and helping mid-level and senior-level business professionals design and execute on their campaign plans is what we do everyday here at the Bold Career Project. Go get ‘em!

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