Learn how innovation can help you grow in your career.
"Innovation" is one of those buzzwords that most people have heard a lot recently, yet many wonder, "What does that mean exactly?" The dictionary defines it as "the introduction of something new" and "a new idea, method, or device." We're surrounded by many new products, services, and ideas, but how does innovation affect you and the job market?
Innovation equals opportunity. That is, opportunity for you to grow, position yourself in a different way, try new skills, and set yourself apart from the crowd. If you "zig" when everyone else is "zagging," you'll stand out. Chances are that the opportunities you seek won't come from filling out another online resume form but from talking to people in a different way. Ask around: What organizations or industries are more likely to take the risks inherent in innovation? Find out who is challenging the status quo. Who are the visionaries in your area of expertise?
Be innovative in the way you present yourself. Look at your strengths and understand how they can be maximized for a variety of positions. Now Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham and Don Clifton is a must-read, and their online assessment tool helps you identify your top-five strengths. Today's innovative organizations are looking for people who can work effectively with teams, provide critical thinking, adapt, and know how to question processes in a civil way. Ask yourself how your strengths match up to these important skills, and develop a positioning statement to show your abilities in these areas. Knowing yourself is the only way you can market yourself in the most powerful way.
Staying on top of your industry and profession is vital, and you need to keep up to date on current trends in business, marketing, and other relevant topics. (See sidebar below for resources.) Set aside time every day to read and do research. Look for innovative thinking, which will often spark an opportunity in your mind. This investment in time will pay off in several ways: networking, job interviews, and brainstorming about organizations to target. You'll be more interesting, more valued, and more attractive to potential employers because you're providing relevant and timely insights. Use ASAE as a source. ASAE monitors trends in the association sector and works to help you understand and embrace innovation, no matter where you are in the process.
As you build your strategy to obtain your next job, use innovation as a catalyst to approach the process in a new and rewarding way. Believe in the opportunities that exist; get to know yourself in a new way so you can position yourself to win. Be relevant and watch the doors open.
Ann Ranson is president of Bottom Line 3 Marketing, based in Dallas. She's a strategy and marketing coach, consultant, and trainer who helps associations and nonprofits understand the impact of civil behavior on their bottom lines. Email: [email protected]
Sidebar: Resources to Stay Current
Follow your industry and the job market through trade publications, blogs, and subject-matter experts. Try these resources to help you stay on the forefront of your profession:
- Fast Company: www.fastcompany.com
- "Innovation for Associations" white paper: www.wsae.org
- MIT Sloan Management Review: www.sloanreview.mit.edu
- Harvard Business Review blog digest: blogs.hbr.org
- Stanford Social Innovation Review: www.ssireview.org
- American Staffing Association: www.americanstaffing.net
- 2011 Economic Analysis: www.americanstaffing.net/statistics/economic.cfm
- Staffing Statistics: www.americanstaffing.net/staffingsmarts/s_facts.html
- White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation: www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/sicp
ASAE Career Headquarters www.careerhq.org
If you're looking for the next step in your association management career or looking for high-quality candidates to fill open positions at your organization, check out CareerHQ.org—the best source of association jobs and resumes. In addition to helping you find your next job—whether it's as CEO, director of technology, or membership coordinator—ASAE's career services department offers such services as executive coaching, resume writing, and more. For more information, contact Catherine Lux Fry at [email protected].
Are there certain career-related topics you would like addressed on this page? If so, please email your questions or topic ideas to [email protected]. We look forward to hearing from you!