Make Yourself Accountable

When it comes to building a career, the buck stops with you. Here's how to reap the rewards by taking responsibility.

and inform them of the difficulties she was having with her staff. She also should have developed a support network of people to whom she could go to for advice, and built alliances with her superiors.

If she had done all that and had still felt that the level of support offered was not adequate, she could have chosen not to take a job in which she would inevitably fail. If, by resigning, she walked away feeling as though she was set up for failure, then she learned nothing. Her experience was a self-fulfilling prophecy. On the other hand, if she learned to assess her strengths and weaknesses, to continuously upgrade her skills, and request the tools needed to work efficiently, then her experience was a success.

You’ve had five jobs in as many years, and now fear that your kangaroo act has caught up with you. Don’t worry; you’re not alone. Whether corporate trends, such as downsizing, or career growth opportunities kept you hopping, jumping no longer carries the stigma it once did. Companies are aware that the volatile job market has displaced many people and that workers have found more creative forms of employment. “Contract employment is becoming more prevalent, and the rise of mergers and acquisitions and downsizing has actually made job jumping commonplace,” says Julia Hartman, author of Strategic Job Jumping: Fifty Very Smart Tactics for Building Your Career (Prima Publishing). Nonetheless, some employers are on the defensive. Here’s how to counter their skepticism:

Bring up references. Offer references who can vouch for your performance in spite of your short tenure. If you were a productive, results-oriented employee, they’ll be able to give tangible examples of your work.

Show your portfolio. Seeing is believing. Compile awards, sales performance records, and other pertinent documents in a professional-looking binder, and present them during your interview.

Prove your worth. “If you were hired by all those companies, then you must have had the skills to do the job,” says Hartman. In addition, you bring a broader industry perspective and numerous contacts that can benefit the organization.

“The companies most accepting of this are those that embrace change and are not very traditional,” says Hartman. “If the firm frowns on this type of strategy, you might not be happy there in the first place.”

Sometimes, the dream that you want can’t be fulfilled in the confines of an office or the award of a lofty title. For some, the thought of pursuing their dream career, no matter what, is a compelling force. Bailing out from the workday world can be exhilarating — and hair-raising. Throwing caution to the winds and venturing out on one’s own can be the start of a fulfilling adventure — and a satisfying new way of life — even in today’s volatile economy. Many individuals don’t have the time, money, or guts to walk this economic tightrope.

For most, starting a business, spending time with family, teaching, or just taking some time off to regroup would be enough.

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