Principal Consultant, Career OverDrive!
You've just started your career or perhaps you've been rolling along smoothly or at least fairly smoothly in your career for some time.
If you've been working for some time, sure, you've perhaps been pushed out of one or two companies or felt that it didn't feel like you were growing (no promotions) or the atmosphere changed (a new co-worker or new boss arrived with a bullying attitude).
But overall life is good.
And that's the danger. Life is good now. But have you stopped to consider given your age, career to date, skill set and the industry you are in what your shelf life is?
Shelf life? What's that? Isn't that just related to things like food? Well sure, but it goes beyond that and for our purposes allow me to define it :
Shelf life: The period or length of time for which an item or good remains fit or usable for consumption, or remains salable.
Think of this not as the expiry date (the date where it's not salable or that consumption is not possible) but as the freshness date.
If I eat that day old bread, sure I won't get sick but it won't taste as good as fresh bread nor would I pay as much. In fact, I would buy almost any fresh bread of any variety (french baguette, sour dough, etc.) before I would consider a day old bread of my favorite variety.
And that, my friends, is how shelf life works in the employment and business field.
So we need to think about our shelf. In general, most of us are safe until age 40. But at age 40 (it used to be 50 to 55), boom! We are given no quarter.
Our entire career, every move, every company and so on is scrutinized. If we are looked at at all.....mostly we may just be passed over.
This is why up to the age of 40 it is critical that you carefully determine your career moves as well as the work you do at each company you are employed at -- you must work to build a visible and proven portfolio, create cumulative advantages while decreasing or destroying cumulative disadvantages.
We almost all start in "technical positions" but along our career path we must move from being a "doer" to a manager -- whether we manage people, products, projects or plans.
The "P"s" as I call it.
It's equally critical that we don't just run and jump ships at the first sign of bullying or poor management, because we will face more and more of that the older we get, especially after age 40, so we must learn to engage and fight -- office politics, influencing, persuasion...
Sure, at some point it's time to move but it's a lot less than you might think and only after certain goals or objectives are realized.