Since this is my first column, I thought I would start with an idea readers can use to take a hard look at their own position and how they might improve their career marketability. Each of the following ideas are general elements that form a framework for future articles following the theme of the balanced scorecard.
The balanced scorecard is a corporate management tool used to gauge the health of a company (Merchant & Van der Stede, 2007). This tool can be adapted to evaluate one’s own career and marketability. Visualize a piece of A4 paper that is balanced on a fingertip. On each side is an area or aspect of your teaching career, revealing a clear picture of strengths and weaknesses. The four areas are: teaching experience, publications/presentations, education, and extra-curricular. One way of clearly articulating where each of the areas might fit is to start with a complete look at your career (perhaps through an academic CV), and then take the time to evaluate the various sections to see which areas are strengths and which are weaknesses. Then you can decide to improve the weakest points of your career.
If publications/presentations are a weak point, there may be more opportunities than you might imagine. As an example, start with the various JALT events and publications. You can try submitting something to The Language Teacher (check, for example, the book review section for books that need reviewing). There are several books (Writing your journal article in 12 weeks, or How to run seminars and workshops) as well as SIGS like Material Writers and MASH to help you get started.
If education is a weak point, there are a number of options now open to people that were not available even a decade or two ago. These options include graduate degrees via distance learning, as well as certificates and diplomas. In addition, there are more and more Japanese universities offering degrees in English (up to the terminal doctorate degree).
Extra-curricular activities are those that enhance the educator’s marketability, and there are various ways that these can be improved. People working outside of a tenured university position may have a difficult time participating in committee work, but there are a number of possibilities that open up when one volunteers to help with conferences. It’s often as easy as merely getting involved and filling needs (even alumni organizations for universities that you have graduated from might be a possibility).
The most important thing to remember is that the job market is constantly in flux, and that anyone interested in either looking for a new job or moving up in the organization they are in can benefit from recognizing their weakness and trying to improve those weak points. Ask yourself the question Tom Peters (1999, p. 32) asks: “What have you done to improve your CV in the past 90 days, and how will you improve it in the next 90?” This column will expand on all of the above areas in the future.
Belcher, W. L. (2009). Writing your journal article in 12 weeks: A guide to academic publishing success. Sage: London.
Jolles, R. (2005). How to run seminars and workshops: Presentation skills for consultants, trainers and teachers, 3rd Ed., Wiley: Hoboken, NJ.
Merchant, K. A. & Van der Stede, W. A. (2007). Management control systems: Performance measurement, evaluation and incentives 2nd Ed., Prentice Hall: London.
Peters, T. (1999). The brand you 50. Alfred A. Knopf: NY.