I run into many people my age or even younger–for some reason more and more people seem to be younger than me each year–who are unemployed or underemployed. I don’t mean that they merely don’t like their job or that they have been out of work for a month or that they think they could be doing more than they are. I mean that they are seriously working at far below what they are capable of–or they have not been working for months on end. One of the things that I tell them to do is to Promote Yourself, which is the title of Dan Schawbel’s new book. Dan usually focuses on Millenials, but I think the message is for everyone.

The problem is that most people wait until they are unemployed before focusing what they really need to do:

  • Develop the right hard skills and soft skills–this means a cold-eyed determination as to whether you are missing the skills you need (or they need updating)
  • Develop some specific technical skill in your field where you go deep
  • Regularly promote your abilities in at least one area that is important to potential employers and clients

Unfortunately, waiting until you are unemployed usually means that you are spending months doing these things when you actually needed them the most right at this moment. I know that it seems hard to do these things on top of your regular job. I know that it doesn’t seem fair that you should have to do more than “do a good job” to remain employed. I know that it seems reasonable to expect that your employer will provide opportunities for you to grow the right skills that will keep you marketable.

You can either approach everything in that passive way or you can give yourself a kick in the butt and realize that no one is taking care of your career if you don’t. And it it isn’t just that doing these things helps you when you get laid off. Doing these things is the best way to avoid being laid off.

Think about it. If you are always making sure that you have marketable skills and you are well-known for having those skills within your industry, why would you be the weak deer that they decide to cull out of the herd?

One of Dan’s best pieces of advice is to turn your passion into your career. So often in my own career I have found that i jumped into something new because I was excited about it and soon it turned into my full-time job. In digital marketing, something new is always around the corner–pick out a trend you are excited about and commit to it.

If you feel like you have no idea what I am talking about or you just don’t know how to start, then you need Dan’s book. Promote Yourself shows you how to choose what you need to be known for and to treat yourself as your most important product. This is important for everyone, but, honestly, I don’t trust a marketer with a bad resume. If you can’t do it for yourself, then how can you do it for my product?