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Are you damaging your career with short-termism?


DATE: 07 August, 2018

The taxicab industry failed to embrace technology and innovate customer experience. Which is apparently Uber’s fault.

Bricks and mortar retailers ignored e-commerce like Kodak ignored digital. Amazon gets the blame.

Facebook killed MySpace… remember MySpace?

The hard truth is that none of those examples demonstrate competitors doing anything other than moving into a marketplace void and exploiting it. Clever and opportunistic, sure — but hardly rocket science. Any strategist with a little foresight would have read that crystal ball for you and come up with the same conclusions.

So why do some folks in the digital and social media environment think their careers are any different?

The reality is, there is nothing about the digital and social media environments that remain constant for long. In fact, the entire industry is allergic to stagnation and breaks out in hives if updates and innovations aren’t delivering on spec on cue.

Just as workplaces must keep pace with new ways of doing business in a digital world (or face a Kodak like extinction) so too must employees.

The only person you have to blame when your career in digital stalls and crashes is yourself

Let’s go back a step.

You got the job. You may have been straight out of uni, interning your way through to a full-time gig or found yourself drawn into digital and social media as the communications landscape changed from a broadcast mentality to an online conversation.

Out of the core social media platforms that have demonstrated longevity; LinkedIn was founded in 2002, Facebook in 2004,  YouTube in 2005 and Twitter in 2006 — give or take a few years for that ‘social media’ fad to solidify itself as technological change; mix it up with better affordability of smart devices and increasing data speeds — and for the better part of the last decade everyone’s been on a learning curve.

So why stop learning now?

Are you damaging your career with short-termism?

If you hold the mindset that you know all there is to know based on a couple of successes over the past few years, you may as well donate yourself to the museum of digital antiquities now.

What worked online 6 or 12 months ago, won’t engage today’s audiences.

The qualifications, skills, experience or knowledge that got you your job then, won’t secure you a seat at the interview table in today’s job market.

If you think your turn in the big-boss chair is earned by counting the days/weeks/years you’ve spent tapping and clicking away on the tools, you’ve grossly overestimated your capabilities and markedly underestimated your competition.

And oh yes, you will always have competition. The higher up the managerial ladder you climb, the thinner the air. Those without qualifications, diverse experiences and leadership qualities are left behind as those who do climb on.

Career inertia is now measured by the same metrics as success

How do you fare in the creativity stakes? How effective is your ability to innovate and tell engaging stories on an increasingly complex range of digital and social networks? Can you successfully deliver concept to solution? How are your HTML and coding skills? Can you effectively analyse unstructured data to deliver meaningful insights and then apply them to real-world applications —all while providing clear bang for organic reach or ad buy buck?

Instead of focusing on getting your foot in the door and moulding your bottom into your seat; look beyond the first few months or even years to where you want to be.

If you want to be a manager, how qualified are you really for that job? Do you have the education, the demonstrated capabilities and emotional intelligence of your peers?

If you want to move into digital production, are your skills broadcast quality? Can you use Adobe’s creative suite like a pro? Do you know your lapel microphones from your booms and your SD from your HD?

These are all things you can learn – but are you?

It’s not your employer’s job to keep you employable

The biggest load of bullshit in all workplaces is the notion that once you have a job, upskilling is not your responsibility — it’s your employers.


You were employed to do a job. The minute you can no longer do that job – you become a liability. Don’t blame your employer for looking at better options if you aren’t continually keeping pace with your industry and core skills. A career is a life-long learning activity.

Ask yourself this:

  • When was the last time you did a short course to learn new skills?
  • How do your qualifications stack up against your peers?
  • How often do you read — really read and take in — digital and social media news, research papers, platform updates and algorithm intricacies?
  • How well do you network within your profession? Not your immediate work sector — your profession?
  • When was the last time you made an effort to improve your communication skills? Do you know your demographics from your psychographics and your instant articles from your moments?

Don’t let your digital crisis become your employer’s nightmare

When you’re no longer at the top of your game, no amount of flashy content will hide that fact.

Your work will show where your capabilities are and are not. Your work will also show where your capabilities are at compared to that of your colleagues and peers.

Employees who fail to keep pace with the digital and social revolution miss crucial details and often don’t have the ability to handle the more complex aspects of evolving technologies and the communications challenges they bring.

This often leads to the creation of inadvertent issues and crises for their organisation. From falling sales to reputational damage, incompetence is acutely quantifiable.

If you care for your job, start caring for professional self. Demonstrate your ability and willingness to stay at the top of your game. The best investment you can make in your career is to invest in yourself.

Your career is your business. It’s time to start managing it like a CEO. ~ Dorit Sher

This blog post was originally published on the Firebrand Ideas Ignition blog.