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Making Career Change Work for You

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The marketing world today is in flux. Companies, customers, and agencies are redefining their relationships, and even the functions and roles of marketing professionals are all changing. New technology opens up a myriad of possibilities for marketing—from social networking to viral and word-of-mouth marketing campaigns, new mobile marketing media, and beyond. Added demands are also being placed on marketing teams as management demands more accountability for and measurement of its marketing investment.

Change, almost by definition, can be difficult, and change in the marketing workplace is no exception. Whether it's due to large-scale changes in your industry or a reorganization in just your own marketing group, change can throw a wrench into an organization that will significantly impact both individual and organizational productivity. The ensuing turmoil may force marketing professionals to consider whether their existing positions are still a good fit for the long-term, or, all too often, the organization may make those decisions for them.

How do you manage to build a successful and fulfilling marketing career, amidst all of this turbulence? Here are five things to keep in mind when you see change looming on the horizon:
  • Reaffirm that you control your career, not an employer.

    You are responsible for your position in the business world, for creating your own professional image, and for marketing yourself and the solutions you provide—not your employer, no matter how benevolent and caring they may seem. This is something most of us know, but aren't always ready to acknowledge.

  • Take time to reassess what you want to do.
    When faced with a changing environment, take a good, long, hard look at what you really want to do next. Look beyond the day-to-day demands of your current or most recent position. Reassess your strengths and your goals, and understand where your passions lie. Just as importantly, take the time to clearly understand what it is you do not want to be doing in the future.

  • Think outside the organizational chart.
    What would you do if you were no longer constrained by the scope of your current job, by what you'd done before, or by what your employer or managers thought you could do? Consider what you are really capable of achieving. Perhaps this is a good time to move to a very different type of marketing organization or environment. Consider options you may not have contemplated before, including starting your own business, working part-time, working for a non-profit, or taking additional training to develop new areas of marketing competency.

  • Be ahead of the curve
    Watch for technologies and trends. Rather than keeping up with what's happening, try to think ahead and be more proactive. Anticipate what marketing trends may impact your functional area in the future, then develop skills and expertise in these areas. Join local associations or online communities. Read relevant blogs, or, better yet, write one of your own.

  • Take a fresh look at life balance priorities
    Take time to decompress and recharge—to exercise, to read, to spend time with your family, to pursue personal interests, and to look at what could be next. Find sources of energy and fulfillment outside of your work environment. Put your work challenges in perspective.
Whatever actions you take, remember that your own approach to change can make a world of difference. Think positively. Change your own view on what's possible, what's achievable, and how you can leverage the environment around you to not just survive but thrive. After all, sometimes the best way to handle change is with a little preemptive change effort of your own.

About the Author

Linda Popky is the president of L2M Associates, a Redwood City, California-based strategic marketing company that helps organizations dramatically improve their return on investment on marketing programs, processes, and people. She is the author of the soon to be published booklet, "Marketing Your Career: Packaging and Promoting Yourself for Success." Learn more about how to leverage your marketing investment by visiting her website at, or contacting her at
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