Next-level Career Planning

November 28, 2011


Is it time to start thinking about taking your career to the next level? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), men and women in this country hold an average of 14 different jobs in their lifetime. The government doesn't keep statistics on job satisfaction, but research from Kelly Services, a major temporary staffing firm indicates about one half of all workers have dissatisfaction from their job. The primary reasons cited? Compensation and flexibility.

Most likely career change has entered into your thoughts. How do I move up the ladder? What other industry would be a good fit for my skills? Do I want to continue working for some else or start working for myself? These are all questions to consider. Even if you are satisfied with your job, are you sure it will be there in the coming years? There are several reasons that might drive a change in career:

  • Prospects for earning more money are unlikely. If your annual raises are not commensurate with your contribution, you will be resentful.

  • Work is too stressful, perhaps causing family or health issues. Or you are working too many hours.

  • Work is becoming routine and boring. One of the things that attracted us to broadcast engineering was the variety of projects we deal with on a daily basis. With budgets reduced, perhaps you are now having fewer projects.

  • You are experiencing job burnout. Along with budget reductions come reductions in staffing. Perhaps you are now doing the work of several people out of necessity.

  • Your life has changed: Marriage, kids, health problems, family issues, etc. may make this choice necessary.

  • Job outlook in the field has worsened. This appears to be the case in broadcasting, particularly on the technical side. Statistics from the BLS indicate that broadcast jobs, including technical positions, are expected to decline by 12 percent over the next eight years. The data further suggests that income for these positions will remain flat.

  • Your ability to grow in your current situation is largely dictated by the current economy. Fragmentation of advertising dollars will continue to push revenues down. While much of the industry-funded research shows steady but small revenue growth for radio over the next 10 years, it is hard to imagine that the universe of advertising dollars will continue to grow at the same pace in the current economy. It is especially difficult now that broadband providers have the ability to deliver a wider range of entertainment on personal mobile smart phones and vehicles.

    Skills are equal opportunities

    The first step in reaching the next level is to identify your transferable skills and perform a self-analysis. Go ahead and write down your skills. Then, honestly assess those skills and rate your expertise. Be careful not to over-rate these skills: Let's say you have a professional certification such as a MCSE for example, but primarily use it to manage a news automation or audio storage server; this would probably not make you an expert on other types of more traditional server environments. On the other hand, don't play down skills you have mastered. Successful broadcast engineers generally have a valuable and extraordinary ability to solve problems quickly. Here are a few other great transferable skills:

  • Communications — can you articulate thoughts in writing, speaking or through personal interaction?

  • Teamwork — Do you complement group activities in a positive manner?

  • Flexibility — Adapting to change is important in any organization.

  • Creativity — Thinking out of the box, another trait of successful broadcast engineers.

  • Leadership — Management experience, particularly if you have responsibility for a staff.

  • Ability to self start — Do you need to be told what to do or do you take control without direction?

  • Detail oriented — Do you take pride in the finished product? Are you able to plan/manage projects?

  • Eagerness to learn new skills — You are never too old to learn new skills or get professional certifications. In some cases a change in career may also require additional college coursework or advanced degrees such as an MBA.

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    Research opportunities

    Investigate the options in different types of careers. Moving to a different industry might prove the most difficult since you have not established a track record. Research leading companies in a particular industry, establish a network of contacts, arrange informal telephone calls or lunch with people and recruiters working the industry and start networking.

    Another option is to look for contract opportunities. Some businesses hire on a contract basis during hard economic periods. These opportunities are typically opened for specific short term projects, two years or less. In general, hourly rates can be higher than that of employees, but the rate assumes you will pay for taxes, insurance and travel-related expenses from the payment. This is the best way to gain exposure to a new industry that could lead to a more permanent position if desired, or you could continue contracting with other companies on new projects.

    Business networking websites like Linkedin.com are excellent sources of contacts for every type of industry. These sites also have discussion groups created specifically to address issues within an industry.

    Refresh resume and interview

    Your resume should be professional and tailored to provide the best exposure to your chosen career. Posting the resume online will provide the greatest amount of visibility to potential employers. Remember to check the proper business categories you are targeting and provide keywords that will make the resume more visible to searches. Most hiring starts with screening from a third party recruitment firm.

    Assess your lifestyle

    The most obvious impact of changing careers is the effect it has on your family, finances and lifestyle. Expect tradeoffs. This is a new beginning where you need to prove yourself again, but that is the reality of moving your career to the next level.


    McNamara is president of Applied Wireless, Cape Coral, FL.



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