I’m in Austin for SXSW and attended a session on Saturday that focused on a blueprint for managing your career. The session was led by Ben Casnocha and Reid Hoffman, co-authors of The Start-up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career. The session focused on the premise that your career is in “permanent beta”–the world and your competition are changing constantly and, therefore, your career is never a finished product but rather a work in progress. Casnocha and Hoffman offered three strategies for managing your career in permanent beta.
- Plan to adapt. Flexible persistence is key for both start-up companies and individuals, and you must employ ABZ planning where Plan A is what you are doing now in your current career (e.g., practicing law). Plan B is not what you do if Plan A fails but rather what you do when other opportunities with more potential arise (e.g., leave the law and start a business). Plan Z is the worst case scenario, and it allows you to take the risk in your Plan B (e.g., if my debt arises to $X while starting a business, I’ll work as a contract attorney on a doc review project).
- Strengthen your network (especially your looser ties). As you probably know, the majority of people obtain new jobs through someone in their network. Moreover, it’s the loose ties in your network that aid in your job search because they offer informational diversity. Your close or strong ties are going to be very similar to you; thus, those ties often read the same information and share the same information. However, your loose or weak ties are more different and offer different information and leads.
- Take intelligent risks. Anticipate risks (possible layoff or a replacement) and become resilient to risks. You become resilient to risks by introducing risks along your career path. Think of a flu shot–you build up your immunity to the flu virus by injecting the virus (flu shot) into your body. Similarly, you become immune to risks by injecting risk along your career path.