Fall Into Your Next Career Move - Matt Prohaska
Published: September 13, 2012 at 11:59 AM GMT
Last Updated: September 13, 2012 at 11:59 AM GMT
By Matt Prohaska
In many parts of this country, the passing of Labor Day means the return to school for many youngsters, to the quasi-glee of their parents, but also the return of many companies' full staffs after their staggered summer vacations. There is a new energy back in the office and it usually is a good time for us to take stock on our job status to see how we're doing and how we can do better, in our current place and/or somewhere else. Here are a few ideas to keep in mind when you do that formal review or just a passing thought.
Take a look through my LinkedIn profile and hope your hand doesn't get sore from scrolling. It's longer than I would have liked for sure, with some stints not lasting as long as planned. I intentionally took larger risks early on, working for firms that either had an unproven product or business model because I passionately believed in either the people or the mission or both. Unfortunately, many companies in the digital media and advertising technology space have to make drastic changes quickly and not every company makes it. So if you are going to take a shot at a smaller newer company, or try your hand at bootstrapping a startup as I have done, make sure you know when to get out and move onto something better quickly. Just don't make it a habit – it's always a balance, so make sure you are not in five straight jobs lasting under a year.
Change is so constant, especially in the digital media industry. I don't know any other business where everyone from entry-level to executive management has to keep up reading so many news and opinion items on a daily basis. Companies are constantly launching new products and divisions and what you thought was your competitor one quarter can suddenly be a key partner the next, and vice versa. Our consulting firm launched a series of classes over the summer. We originally planned to teach this new method of digital media buying to people that were focused in media buying. Turns out half the class came from sales, operations, PR, and other non-buying jobs wanting to learn how this high-growth area affected their current job and perhaps their next one. There is always something new to learn, or someone new to meet, so take advantage of the time/money available from your company or sponsors and get to every networking event, conference, or webinar you can – no better way to stay ahead than knowing more about what everyone else is doing or not doing.
Pick People Prudently
I am lucky in some regards that the worst manager I have had in my career so far, and hopefully ever, was my very first. She was just not a nice person and very resistant to change, even if it meant making her life and her team's better. On the other extreme I have a friend I had the pleasure of working with twice who has had the same boss at five different companies. They make a great match and why spoil a good thing when you have mutual respect, trust, and success? If you are in a tough spot with a bad boss, do your best to ride it out if others feel the same until hopefully a change occurs, or if the company is large enough, perhaps a transfer to another team could be a safe way out. But I know too many people that are not happy with their job simply because of their boss. It can be a crippling and helpless feeling. If you have enjoyed working with someone before, and even if there isn't an open spot today with that person wherever s/he is, your relationship should be strong enough to at least ask for a reference to someone they know. And it might be worth taking a perceived step down to get into a great atmosphere again. I landed a great job at AOL years ago working for someone great based on the recommendation of an earlier fantastic boss that used to work with him. It's a small world and if you aren't burning bridges, you'll keep finding the right good people.
Having been raised outside of Buffalo where each of my aunts and uncles worked at an average of 1.5 total companies through their 30-year careers, I am certainly at the other end of that spectrum thus far. But every past experience has made me a better professional for the next challenge. Stay current and connected, and you and your career will always be a step ahead.
Matt Prohaska is a 20-year media veteran and consultant to leading digital media and advertising technology firms and executives. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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