Career Cross-Training

by | November 11, 2009

As I predicted last Monday in this space, nationalunemployment climbed above 10% for October – the highest jobless rate since1982.  (To put that in perspective,it's the highest rate ever in the total life of a 26-year-old associate at abank or law firm.  It's higher thanany 48-year-old has seen in her entire adult working life.)   While many career blogs offeradvice to the unemployed, those of us who still have jobs as managers andexecutives need help almost as much.

Most great athletes sing the praises of Cross-Training.  When a defensive lineman learns yogaposes, when a basketball star takes kick boxing instruction and when baseballsluggers get into the pool – they are all striving to get an edge on theircompetition, prevent injuries and take their conditioning to anotherlevel.  This is also true forexecutives – and never more so than in these turbulent and dangerous times.

At Vault.com, we view the career market as a matrix withhorizontal and vertical considerations. If you are a manager or executive, the vertical consideration would beindustry.  Your career exists in aparticular industry vertical, but what verticals are adjacent and naturallyaccessible to you?  Your version of"cross training" might be to find a position in a new vertical togive yourself exposure and experience. From a horizontal point of view, consider your profession.   You might think about seeking aposition which would broaden your professional skill set.

In my own case, I had plenty of operational experiencemanaging large cost centers. Horizontally, however, I had little experience overseeing sales andfinance.  I took a CEO positionwith a smaller company to accelerate my learning curve – and that exposed me toand taught me about professional categories I never would have encounteredwithout "cross training."  And while I had worked extensively in television, I had only limitedexperience with the internet and web-based media.  Moving to a website company has broadened my knowledge andexperience base in adjacent verticals to my more traditional media background.

Everyone has their own version of these opportunities – andthere is no "right answer."   The only givenis that the more versatile and experienced and knowledgeable you are – themore marketable you are.  And inthis environment, that could be the difference between keeping and losing yourjob.  Or getting a good one, if youlose the one you have. 

Filed Under: Job Search


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