Corporate America Doesn’t Care About You: It’s Time to Put Yourself First

177When was the last time you came home late because you needed to finish an urgent project? Did you take your work home recently? Have you ever missed your kid’s recital because of work? Sacrificing work/life balance to move up in the corporate ladder seems like a fair trade, at least on the surface.

Martin Yate, author of New York Times bestselling book series Knock ‘Em Dead, says “The company doesn’t care about you.” Yate adds, “When you get laid off, what do they say? It’s nothing personal. It’s just business.”

Of course it’s hard not to take it personally… after all the personal sacrifices you made for them. Working for one company for twenty years is no longer sound advice – in many cases it’s no longer the norm.

Take Care of Your Career. If You Don’t, No One Will.

Statistics say the average US employee will work for 50 years, changing jobs every four and a half years. If recessions occur roughly every seven to 10 years, then there’s a possibility you’ll be job hunting at the middle of a recession at least five times in your whole career.

At the same time, technology is driving more businesses to automate or outsource thousands of jobs every year. If you rely on antiquated career advice like, “Find a good company and stick with them ’til you retire,” you’ll be blindsided and side swept like many of the 30 and 50-something middle managers who were laid off in 2008.

The Birth of Me Inc

It’s time to stop prioritizing the corporation. Put yourself back the in center of your career. From now on, think of yourself as a company.

Corporations have long term goals to weather through market turbulence, and grow their profits in the long-term. Those corporate goals have employee equivalents. Like a corporation, you have financial obligations payable even during recessions and, as an individual, you also have to grow.

Companies have marketing and HR departments. To employees, that translates to your personal brand, network and resume. Of course, companies have a sales department to bring them more business, for you that means interview and negotiating skills.

The American Workforce’s Weakest Skill

How many jobs have you had so far? Five? Two? There’s a good chance that’s also the number of job offers you’ve had. No wonder lots of applicants don’t know how to turn interviews into paychecks!

Exercising Your Interview Muscles

According to Yate, you can still practice your negotiation and interview skills – even if you don’t want to be labeled a job hopper – by pursuing promotions in your company. It doesn’t matter if you don’t get the job; the point of the exercise is to enhance your confidence in answering questions. The potential promotion and pay increase is just a nice bonus.

If you’re not ready to go after a higher position, look for other candidates in the same position you’re in. Are your skills up to par with them? Do what you can to keep up. Those people are your competitors – potential replacements – your employer might hire to replace you for any number of reasons.

The Biggest Hoax of Personal Branding… And What REAL Branding is

Yes, I’m all for supporting people switching careers. What I don’t agree with is people labeling themselves as ‘experts’ when they clearly don’t have enough tenure.

CPA switching to Real Estate? Great! But you can’t just call yourself a Real Estate Expert-even if you’re already licensed! The license and prerequisite exams are just qualifying requirements; they’re not proofs of expertise and credibility.

Real branding takes time. Branding is akin to reputation, a combination of your personality, work history and the tangible results you deliver.

Yate shared tons of solid advice on career management and personal branding skills in our interview last year. You can get the exclusive interview, plus 31 more interviews with other career experts around the country, including Liz Ryan, CEO of Human Workplace and Career Sherpa Hannah Morgan. These interviews have changed thousands of people’s careers last year. Now it is your turn.

Don’t Wait for the Sky to Fall

Most people don’t come to me for help until it’s too late. It’s a sad fact. By then, they’re so desperate to find a job – ANY job – that they’re too stressed to be at their best during interviews. Don’t be a buzzer beater.