Living well is the best revenge. This is true when it comes to your career as well. But we can forget that when we are in the middle of a career crisis.
It’s easy to get caught up in obsessing over the unfair performance review. Or to sit around in your sweats binge-watching Netflix after getting fired. Or to obsessively read the Facebook and Instagram updates of the person who got the promotion you were gunning for but didn’t get.
You can spend days obsessing about what went wrong, and drafting and redrafting emails that show how you were wronged. But none of those activities are going to help you get your career back on track.
Take 24 hours to find some way to release that anger. Go to the gym. Take a hot bath and scream under the bubbles. Do whatever you need to do to address your anger and let off some steam. Now you’re ready to take all that negative energy and channel it into something productive. And that’s where the revenge career communications plan comes in.
What’s a Revenge Career Communications Plan?
Just to be clear, a revenge communications plan is not where you lay out a plan to undermine your current/former/potential employer by talking smack about them. Rather, it’s a communications plan and content strategy you devise to get your career back on track after a setback.
For instance, let’s say you had a boss give you a performance review with your area of improvement being your communication skills. You’re a marketing communications manager, whose prior jobs have all been communications roles. You think you’ve got some pretty solid communications skills, but your boss apparently does not.
Now here’s the thing: sometimes we get tough feedback we don’t want to hear. But that’s entirely different from getting flat out incorrect, career-limiting feedback. When the feedback is wrong, it’s up to you to show your boss that side of yourself to help change their opinion. And that’s where a revenge career communications plan can come in handy.
A revenge communications plan is, at its heart, a content and comms strategy that fully aligns with your career development plan by positioning yourself as a thought leader in your field with those who can help you on your career path. It’s the means by which you are going to show the world—including that company/peer/boss who has the wrong picture about you—what you can do when you set your mind to it.
4 Times You May Need a Revenge Career Communications Plan
Over the past 20+ years as a manager and consultant, here are a few of the situations where I’ve recommended putting together a revenge career communications plan:
- You earned a promotion but had it suddenly withdrawn without cause. You then received negative feedback regarding your skill set that you feel is not accurate.
- You were passed over for a promotion. You made a strong business case for the promotion, but your peers didn’t see you as demonstrating the right skill set.
- You were fired from a job that made poor use of your skills. You don’t have work samples you want to show anyone as a result.
- You were second runner-up for your dream job. They went for someone with the same amount of experience but who had a more developed personal brand.
In each of these examples, you need to change public opinion regarding your skill set and area of expertise. And that’s exactly what your revenge communications plan is all about.
What to Include in Your Revenge Communications Plan
Before we dive into the plan itself, just to be clear, this plan is for you. It is not something you are going to share with your boss. You are not going to post it on Facebook and tell everyone this is how you are going to show them what a big mistake you made. It’s just for you. It’s your personal action plan for how you are going to use your communications skills to get your career on track.
Here are its basic components:
- Your objective. Start with your why. What are you trying to accomplish with this plan? An objective could be “Improve my reputation as a knowledgeable content strategist and valuable member of the marketing industry.”
- Goals to support your objective. What does “improve my reputation mean” in a quantifiable way? Goals to support this example objective could be have your LinkedIn profile appear in 50% more LinkedIn searches, to increase your overall personal social media engagement rate to 5%, and to increase the average number of social shares of any content you produce by 25%.
- Strategy for reaching those goals. What is it going to take to reach your goals? For example, it could include build relationships with industry influencers and invite them to collaborate on content creation, join and participate in relevant industry communities, and identify opportunities for more 1:1 connections and conversations on LinkedIn.
- Measuring your progress. How do you know that your actions have made an impact? For example, your metrics could include the following actions — publish a weekly blog post, include influencers in 25% of all content creation, and contribute two guest blog posts per month.
- Your differentiator. What can you offer your audience that no one else can? For instance, perhaps the other prominent experts in your field have only held consultant roles for the past 20 years while you have been in-house in the trenches doing the work. Your differentiator will influence the key messages you include in all your communications and your content creation.
- Your audience. Who are you specifically trying to reach with your content and communications? Whose opinion are you trying to sway? For example, you could be trying to reach those who influence the opinion of your boss or future employer.
- What’s in it for the audience. What will your audience get that’s useful to them from the content and communications you’ll produce? Yes, your content needs to help you with your goals. But how do you make it a win-win? For example, you could host a meetup for other content strategists. The get to mingle with and share ideas with their peers and your newly engaged audience might help influence your current boss’s opinion of your skill set. Or they could even be potential new employers.
- Your topics. What are the topics you’re going to focus on to reach your goals? Be sure to focus on topics where you have expertise and passion. For example, don’t decide to focus on Facebook video just because it’s a hot topic. You want to find a niche that combines your personal expertise with something that will engage your audience.
- Calls to action. What do you want people to do after they consume your content? Do you want them to share it on social? Are you looking to start a conversation? Clearly define the next steps you want people to take after interacting with your content and communications.
Choose the Right Activities to Support Your Revenge Career Communications Plan
One of the most difficult parts of all this can be identifying the right activities that will support your objectives and prioritizing your time to do them. After all, you can’t spend all day on social media, crafting creative content, and networking in Slack communities. You’ve got to prioritize.
Start by identifying a couple of content channels that appeal to you. A few thought leadership-building content creation activities you could consider include:
- Blog on your own site
- Guest blog for industry blogs and publications
- Start a podcast
- Host a meetup
- Create an online course
- Host a webinar
- Provide free office hours where you use your skills to help nonprofits or SMBs
- Submit presentation proposals for industry conferences
Next, identify the communications activities that can also work towards your goals. These could include:
- Update your social media profiles to focus on the topics you identified
- Overhaul your LinkedIn profile to better reflect the career path you want versus the jobs you’ve had
- Curate a list of key influencers to engage with on social media and in-person
- Attend relevant industry conferences
- Participate in online communities or forums related to your topics
- Become a regular in a popular industry Twitter chat [shameless plug: check out #ContentChat, the weekly chat I moderate, if you’re a content marketer]
- Share your career accomplishments—both internally and publicly
It’s tempting to try to do all the things. But it’s not realistic. Think about how much time you have to commit to your revenge career communications plan. Which of these activities have the highest likelihood to help you meet your goals? And it’s OK if this activity mix changes over time! It may take some trial and error for you to find the right types of content and communications to connect with your ideal audience.
Measure—and Bask in—Your Success
As you put your revenge communications plan into action, hold yourself accountable by regularly tracking your progress against your goals. Did you pick the right activities to help you reach your objectives? If not, it’s time to revise your plan. Did you hit a milestone or achieve one of your goals? Take time to celebrate that win!
We all have those moments when all we want is to get even with someone we feel has wronged us. But instead of wasting time daydreaming about getting even, putting together and acting on your own revenge career communications plan puts all that creative energy to work for you instead of against you. And who knows, you just may find your true career calling in the process.