How to Think Like a Business When Strategizing Your Career

As any smart business administrator or manager knows, regular strategic planning is basic to marketplace survival. Depending upon the industry, organizations will plan one, three, five, or even 10 years into the future. The question is: Are you following their lead in strategizing your career?

A sound strategic plan sets short- and long-term goals and directs energy, resources and finances toward their achievement. It defines your assets, what separates you from the competition, and the best way to market yourself. There are many elements to a traditional strategic business plan, but in developing yours, stay focused on the following four:

1. Market Analysis: For businesses this means investigating the size, growth, profitability, trends and success factors in a target market. In your case, this market is the employment arenas in your field or fields of interest.

2. Competitor Analysis: What advantages/disadvantages do your competitors – those who would apply to the same jobs as you – have in your market? What strategies, actions and education can give you a competitive advantage?

3. Marketing Strategy: What is your unique selling point (USP)? What distinguishes and positions you in the employment market? What is your “brand?” When a potential employer looks at your resume, how do your educational and professional backgrounds characterize you?

4. Financial Analysis: What are your financial resources, and what are the most cost-effective investments you can make to attain your goals.

We all know the current employment arena is tight, and that there’s a great debate among economists about the short- and long-term recoveries of the job market. However, a regular review of job sites like Monster.com reveals that steady career opportunities still exist for candidates with the right credentials. Now is definitely the time to engage in some strategic positioning for the future.

As a starter for analyzing the employment market, consider a recent Brookings Institution look at “The Polarization of Job Opportunities in the U.S. Labor Market.” According to this study “[T]he structure of job opportunities in the United States has sharply polarized over the past two decades, with expanding job opportunities in both high-skill, high-wage occupations and low-skill, low-wage occupations, coupled with contracting opportunities in middle-wage, middle-skill white-collar and blue-collar jobs. Concretely, employment and earnings are rising in both higher-education professional, technical, and managerial occupations…”

The study also noted that “since the late 1970s and early 1980s, the rise in U.S. education levels has not kept up with the rising demand for skilled workers… The result has been a sharp rise in the inequality of wages.”

An online bachelor’s or master’s degree program in key business disciplines such as business administration or business intelligence should be an option in your strategic career plan. Such higher education addresses current career market analysis and will go a long way in “branding” you with the competitive edge you’ll need to attain your own short- and long-term goals.

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