Career Management: You ARE a Small Business

If you’ve ever owned–or worked for–a small business, you know how critical it is to get the word out to your prospective customers about the value you can bring to them. In all probability, no one is going to do this for you.

Now switch gears and look at yourself as a job seeker who wants to land a great new job. Effective career management requires viewing yourself as a small business that needs to attract customers–or, in this case, potential employers. What do you need to know and do in order to pull that off?Depositphotos_84041322_m-2015

How do your get your “small business” (i.e., job search) started right?

Get into the mindset of “I’m a small business and I need customers.” For fun, I took a look at WikiHow and found some tips on starting a small business that could be translated into steps for managing your career and, in particular, conducting an effective job search. Here are the basic steps WikiHow’s article recommends:

  1. Setting out the basics, which includes defining your goals and your team: I believe every serious job seeker needs clear goals and a strong support team.
  2. Writing a business plan, which includes a marketing plan: In your case, that would be a career management plan or, more specifically, a job search plan for how to get from A (where you are now) to Z (where you want to be).
  3. Managing your finances: Unless you’re independently wealthy, which few of us are, finances are almost certainly going to need to be considered in planning and conducting a job search.
  4. Covering tPick Me - One Person Stands out as Best Choice in Crowdhe legal side: OK, so this is probably not such a big deal in a job search–ordinarily. However, you could encounter some legal aspects, including things like non-compete agreements and intellectual property rights, in some job situations.
  5. Marketing your business: This is where the rubber meets the road. If you don’t present yourself in a way that attracts the right kind of attention from the companies you want to work for, you end up giving the edge to your competition. As WikiHow notes, this marketing activity could include tools such as having your own website and being active on appropriate social media sites (as a minimum, think LinkedIn and maybe Facebook).
  6. Launching your business: Kick that job search into gear! Sitting and dreaming about it for weeks won’t move you one inch closer to that new job.

What if you’re a senior-level manager or executive?

As simplistic as the small-business steps above might seem, they can apply just as well to a higher-level job search. Yes, you’re looking at a different kind of challenge–more competition for the “sweet spots,” significantly stronger skills and experience expected, perhaps some tougher obstacles to overcome in those kinds of jobs. That doesn’t mean everything about a job search is totally different at your level. Some principles still hold true. For example:

  • Your unique value-added/ROI message must home-in-on perceived employer needs.
  • You can’t wait for employers to make the first move. It’s not often that they’ll be the ones to come looking for you. Besides, waiting just increases your competition.
  • If you perform your due diligence to identify potentially desirable employers and opportunities–and determine how you need to pursue them–you’ll be ahead of most (if not all) of your competition.

Most small businesses want to grow over time, and the same applies to your career management and job search activities. Growth at any level should probably always be a part of the mix. It’s hard to maintain a healthy “small business” if you’re standing still or treading water. Bigger isn’t necessarily better, though; you might want to remember that growth isn’t always about size–or about whatever rung on the ladder you have reached. It’s a lot about what suits you.


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