Career Key

Author: Career Key's President and CEO, Juliet Wehr Jones, GCDF, J.D.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Free Agent Worker Principle #2: Stay Mobile and Visible

Staying Mobile is the second of the 6 Principles of the Free Agent Worker. What does it mean to “stay mobile”? In her earlier comment, Angie from Caribbean Career Advice got it right. She said it could mean, "available", "flexible", "visible", "participatory" or "involved."

You need to see yourself as an actor on a stage, someone who takes action and takes control of his or her life. This applies whether your career is repairing home appliances or teaching extension classes at a local college. Get over any stigma of "selling yourself." If you follow the suggestions in this post, you won't need to sell anything. Let your actions speak for themselves.

Many people become too entrenched and too “in love” with their current employer – and in some cases, their industry. Narrowing your worldview to one workplace places your fate in one employer’s hands – not a great idea, even in a hot economy.

I’m not suggesting you set your sights so broad that you try to be all things to all people – just prepare yourself to make the next move, before you need to. Depending on where you work, that may require you to switch industries or job titles. Learning about the criteria for job satisfaction will help you think about what you want in your current job and the next one.

Here are some suggestions on how to stay mobile by making yourself visible.
  • Join at least one networking group for your industry (see our tips in my recent post, career specific networking), and plan on attending at least 50% of the meetings. After going for awhile, you'll meet people and learn new information about other employers and your industry. At some point, you'll feel comfortable in contributing to the group - either in leadership or giving a talk.
  • If your industry doesn’t have a networking group, try one that bolsters skills you need in your job (Toastmasters for public speaking, etc.)
  • Offer to volunteer with one group or nonprofit, using skills and/or knowledge needed in your career.
  • If you don’t enjoy going to the group after a few tries, think about why that is and try a different group. Does the reason have to do with you, or with the group itself? Are you meeting other like-minded people? If you have trouble talking to strangers (like I do), go online or get library books at with helpful advice, or team up with a more outgoing colleague who will go with you. Just make sure you branch out when you get to the meeting.
  • Don’t be afraid to join a group or volunteer where you think people are more educated, outgoing, or interesting than you are. Chances are, you underestimate yourself. As we all learned in grade school (and nothing has changed), who you “hang out” with will rub off on you. You might as well spend time with and learn from other successful, motivated people.
Never lose sight of your goal to be someone available, flexible, visible, and ready for a new opportunity. That’s not disloyalty to your current employer, that’s being smart.

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