The key for your company to thrive in the post-Covid era is your people’s level of emotional intelligence
One of my favorite questions that I ask wherever I go to speak about personal branding is: What would be left of you if suddenly someone took away your business card? Many people are shaken by this simple thought. That’s because we rarely take the time to reflect at who we really are behind the roles that we are currently playing at work. People start addressing such issues only in times of personal emergency: company restructuring, lost opportunity for promotion or salary upgrade, relocation and need to find a job on a new market, personal sickness or need to care for a beloved person etc.
This is however too late: not tackling one’s career capital management proactively means lost time, money, opportunities and, sometimes, relations – all in all, a lot of unnecessary anxiety for you and those close to you. On the other hand taking proactive charge of your career capital can not only prevent loss, but also empower you to lead a life that is more in line with your own goals, dreams and desires. In fact managing our career capital is prone to become the nr. 1 professional skill of the future. We just need to understand what we’re talking about, then take the first steps in this direction.
Our career capital is made of everything that happened to us since we started being active outside our families, during school and on the labor market. It includes:
There are other aspects of career capital that would be worth mentioning such as our family background (being born in a well-off family does have its perks) or our language (how amazing it is today to be born an English native speaker?!). Some of these career capital aspects are more valuable than others. However, in order to manage our career capital skillfully we need to focus on those aspects that are more under our control and thus lead to more personal empowerment.
Yes, you may ask – all this is clear, but why should we care about our career capital in the first place? The Czech economy is doing great, salaries are rising, career opportunities are by no means in short supply on the market these days. As lovely as that may be, managing the perception of our name and career capital is important because it is precisely during good times that we should use the opportunity to invest in ourselves and thus bulletproof our careers for potential downturns. If life taught me anything, it is precisely this mindset.
Looking back at my own journey I remember distinctively two moments when I felt that I lost my entire career capital. One was when I decided to leave Romania immediately after finishing my studies in journalism and move to Prague. Journalism, I thought, was something that you can do masterfully only in your mother tongue. So at the beginning I struggled. I got a part-time job in a Czech consultancy that required French and English-speaking skills. At the same time I was teaching private lessons of French and English to make ends meet. I was in this company for almost a year when it started to crack and it became clear that I would need to look for another job. It took me huge courage and an immense leap of faith to put together a CV and a few articles and send them around to the three major English language publications: the Prague Monitor, the Prague Post and the Czech Business Weekly. Fortunately it was CBW that decided to give me a chance. The best thing that ever happened to me uplifted my career from a freelance position to becoming the deputy editor-in-chief right before the magazine was suddenly closed in April 2010. This was my second major moment of career capital loss, as it became crystal clear that I would need to reinvent myself in order to avoid such systemic shocks in the future. Even though I made the right decision – deciding to start training leaders and future leaders in media and crisis communications – it took me nine long years to become a fully-fledged people developer with the skills, experience and career capital that now allow me to stand in my full power and embrace my new professional identity.
This post has been first published by the Czech & Slovak Leaders Magazine in my personal column I, the Brand. Republished with permission.