In the last two installments of the Careers in Parking series, we examined the driving forces that are shaping the future of parking and how this will affect future industry jobs and skill sets. But there is more to a successful career than merely staying current with trends. In this final installment of the series, we will review what it takes to make it in the parking industry of tomorrow.
Taking a moment to sit down and think about your future can seem like a daunting task. However, it’s a worthy activity. Many people don’t take proactive approaches to their careers until they have reasons to do so. They happily go along with the flow as long as things keep going relatively smoothly. Only when trouble arises, do they jump into action.
Now more than ever, parking professionals need to take steps to create their own paths, and they need to start today. Such efforts will allow them to be more intentional and make better decisions throughout their career journeys.
The following are three key elements of an effective career strategy.
1. HAVE A PLAN. It’s easier to follow a path if you know where you are headed, or at least the general direction. As our industry transforms, consider the trends that are shaping it. Take note of what the experts are saying. Evaluate your strengths and how they will be applicable as the industry evolves. Which skills do you have that are marketable?
With all of this in mind, map out a path to get to where you want to go in your career. Yes, you may have to make changes along the way, but if you have an idea of your end goal, then you’ll be able to acquire the skills and experiences that will get you there.
2. INVEST IN YOUR NETWORK. Because after all, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” that matters. I’m sure you are familiar with this saying. And in the recruiting world, we like to take it even one step further, and prefer to say, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know, AND who they know.”
There is incredible value in a strong professional network. Today, only around 40 percent of available jobs are openly advertised. That means 60 percent of jobs are never posted online or on job boards. So how are they filled? Through the network of those involved with filling the positions – whether it’s through a manager knowing the perfect employee to promote or transfer, or a candidate placed in a role by a recruiter, or an employee referral – each of these is an example of a position being filled via the power of the network.
Think of the job market as a gated community where you need to know someone to get through the entrance. What you need to do is know how to crack the gated job market. Remember, it’s never too early or too late to invest in your network.
3. PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE. I did just tell you that it’s “who you know and who they know” that is so crucial a person’s career trajectory. That alone won’t maximize your future. Because, in all actuality, it’s not what you know, and it’s no longer just who you know, but it’s who knows YOU, that matters.
The world is highly competitive. Today, it’s much easier to showcase your professional expertise and share your ideas via social media. Personal branding is now an essential component to professional success.
The key point to remember in terms of personal branding is that you are trying set yourself apart from everyone else, demonstrating your unique value and why people need to work with you. A personal brand involves building a reputation, trust and a following. The impression you project is crucial to not only finding the right job and company fit, but is also crucial to gain the confidence of your coworkers, clients, and managers in general.
The idea of developing a personal brand, especially if you haven’t already been investing in one, can be a bit overwhelming. I suggest you start with the basics, such as reviewing your social media presence. You want to come across as professional, polished and appropriate. Consider contributing to blogs, publishing articles on LinkedIn, submit content to parking trade publications – these are all great ways to help you develop your brand. Or if you are really feeling adventurous, submit a proposal to speak at one of the regional or national conferences.
WHATEVER YOU DO, DON'T WAIT!
A little bit of effort that you start now and build on, little by little, will help you create a bright tomorrow. Infuse your career with action, don’t wait for ‘the right time to plan,’ because that will never come. And as the first two parts of this series discussed, parking is undergoing significant changes which will affect the type of opportunities available and the skill sets required in our space. So, plan now to be part of that future.
This article was originally published in the July 2019 issue of Parking Today.