Boston—Two major changes, the economic recession and the rapid development of marketing technology, should prompt B2B marketers to consider becoming agile careerists, said Marti Konstant, founder and growth hacker at Konstant Change, during a presentation at the 2014 MarketingProfs B2B Forum.
What is an agile career, you ask? According to Konstant, whose company kickstarts market demand for startups and B2B tech companies, an agile career is a self-reflective, iterative career path, guided by response to change, commitment to shorter "tours of duty," and designed to optimize creativity, productivity and happiness.
"Have you ever noticed that some people always seem to land on their feet regardless of the setbacks in their lives? Their career seems to be recession-proof," Konstant said. "Even when they lose a job, another one that is even a better fit seems to show up. The secret is that agile workers have been making adjustments every step of the way."
She said agile careerist have seven habits that B2B marketers can adopt to drive career success:
Habit 1: Pursue it in parallel. Konstant called this "working on a side job or hobby, while looking for another more relevant opportunity." Sometimes opportunities present themselves in the unlikeliest of places and a key to becoming an agile careerist is to embrace these opportunities. If you have the chance to learn a new skill at work, do it. If a volunteer job uncovers a hidden ability, great. The best way to ensure you're agile in your career is to boost capabilities so that you can grab opportunities when they pop up.
Habit 2: Create a buffer zone. Even if you're in a job you love, there can be tough periods. Keep interest in your job by focusing on boosting skills that will help your career on a personal level. "Create a backlog of things you want to do—the ultimate to do list, where you put the most important things first," Konstant said. "Prioritization of those items in the buffer zone is dynamic. Items can be reordered on a regular basis, and some items simply fall off the list because they become less important over time."
Habit 3: Activate the feedback squad. Talk to everyone you can about your career and ideas—friends, coworkers, mentors. "Just as a corporation benefits from establishing a board of directors who can provide guidance and feedback regarding the company strategy and advice on pivotal decisions, the careerist benefits from the feedback of a personal board of directors know as the Feedback Squad. Important decisions are not made in a silo," Konstant explained.
Habit 4: Build your own personal brand. Position yourself as an invaluable employee by optimizing your skills, capabilities and networks. All that work you're doing on yourself will also benefit your boss and your company overall.
Habit 5: Shorter tours of duty. The days of being a company career woman are over. Get what you can out of your current place of employment and do the best job you can. However, don't be afraid to leave when a better offer, or even new job role, comes along. "There has been an economic shift—the concept of loyalty has been exchanged for optimization economy. Companies and employees both optimize for their circumstances," said Konstant.
Habit 6: A/B test your career. Marketers love to A/B test their campaigns to ensure they are effective. Why not do the same for your career, Konstant argued. "With A/B testing comes failure," she said. "What you thought you wanted to do may not be as compelling once you have taken on a project. The important thing to do is to test and experiment until you find the balance of creativity, productivity and happiness."
Habit 7: Respond to change. This habit prioritizes flexibility and abandons rigid plans. "Just as marketing plans benefit from real-time refinement in the fast-moving pace of social media and industry trends, the importance of workers keeping an eye on how to respond to new developments can mean the difference between someone who is stuck and someone who is flourishing," Konstant said. "The impact of technology and the rapid influx of new ideas make for fertile ground for many new possibilities. Those that keep up with the changes have jobs in a downturn."