Today, no job offers lifetime permanence; both organization and personal objectives change rapidly and frequently. Your job security comes from within you — it´s your ability to find another job quickly.
Focus less on how secure your current job is and more on how to keep yourself marketable, your career flourishing, and your options open. To be continually employed, ready to respond in a tight job market, and in control of your professional destiny, you must steadily invest effort in staying marketable.
Here are some broad recommendations for keeping yourself valuable; your personal and professional goals will determine how you apply them.
· Keep your network alive — Networking is critical to your job search and ongoing market value. Maintain contact with the members of your network, and look for ways to help them. Even when you are not actively seeking a new position, use your network to keep current on events and trends in your industry.
These professional contacts can help you increase your technical knowledge in or outside your own area of expertise.
· Expand your knowledge and skills — Commit to lifelong learning. Amazingly, many chemists don´t take enough time to maintain professional viability. Keep current in your field by networking with colleagues in your professional society, enrolling in continuing education classes, reading, and attending seminars. When new technology is introduced, learn about it. Become expert in the latest technology in your area of specialization. Read broadly to stay on top of what´s happening in chemistry in general as well as in your field. Connect with related disciplines such as biology, physics, and nanotechnology. Learn science, but also improve your non-technical skills including oral and written communication, interpersonal skills, and teamwork. You´ll also need to continue developing business awareness; regularly browse business-related publications such as The Wall Street Journal and Business Week.
· Monitor your growth — Periodically assess your values, drivers, and skills (refer to Chapter 2) and stay informed about employment trends (discussed in Chapter 3). This gives you control over your career and determining which options you want to explore, where your technical knowledge best fits, and what you need to improve.
· Make yourself and your abilities visible — Take credit for what makes you special, and build on it. Make an effort to attend local, regional, and national ACS and other professional meetings related to your interests. Seek recognition for your work by writing patents and publications and giving presentations; also use your writing and presentation skills in support of your colleagues and managers. These activities are not self-serving; they add value to your work. Becoming a mentor in your organization and helping professional associations carry out their mission are other ideas for staying visible. For example, you might join a technical committee on consensus standards in ASTM or a committee organizing a symposium in ACS or EAS. Involvement will bring you not only recognition, but also more contacts and considerable satisfaction.
· Be flexible — New directions may present themselves — an internal lateral move, relocating, taking a short-term assignment in another field, joining a task force or project team. Keep an open mind about these opportunities. Also consider furthering your education in a new or related field through after-hours programs or professional activities. Many chemists revitalize their careers and progress to new ones as a result of such initiatives.
· Stay attuned to corporate culture — For example, if your boss sends a family photo to everyone in the group except you, that might be a signal it´s time to start examining your options elsewhere.