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Posted: Mar 23, 2014

Your Career in Permanent Beta

Heart at Work

Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha, in their book The Startup of You, speak to the concept of your career in permanent beta. Their idea is that change is so rapid and constant that it makes long term career planning and management impossible. And by long term planning, Hoffman and Casnocha means three-to-five years. Instead, they argue, to be successful in your career, to remain competitive, you need to stay "nimble and iterate...always remaining in the test phase - permanent beta."

As the title of their book implies, Hoffman and Casnocha equate career managment with startup technology companies. They advocate that career success need to mirror the entrepreneurial skills characteristic of these startups. In fact, Hoffman is the founder of LinkedIn the online professional social networking site. 
Permanent beta connotes that your career is never finished. It's a continual work in progress and that it is always day one. For many people, 20 years experience is actually one year experience repeated 20 times because they have done a variation of the same thing for 20 years. However, in permament beta, 20 years experience is actually 20 years experience as each year is marked by new challenges and opportunities. Permanent beta is essentially a lifelong commitment to continuous professional improvement.
Your career in permanent beta acknowledges that you have bugs; that new development is constantly required; that you need to adapt and evolve. It's also celebratory and optimistic, recognizing that you have the power to improve, not just yourself, but the world around you. 
The mindset of permanent beta and being the enrtrepreneur of your own life and career requires critical skills that include determining your competitive advantage, then iterating and adapting to remain competitive. It also includes building real and lasting relationships into a powerful professional network, creating opportunities by tapping your network, and taking intelligent risk as you pursue those opportunties.
You need to draw on the strategies employed by entrepreneurs to survive in times of rapid and constant change and to break out from the pack and flourish as a globally competitive professional.
Whether you're looking to move up in your organization, start your own business, or transition to an entirely new career, you need to adopt entrepreneurial career strategies that will help you thrive in the new normal of work.
So, are YOU keeping your career in permanent beta? Can you articulate your competitive advantage? Do you have strong relationships that can help steer you to key opportunities when they arise? 

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