Ring out the old - career advice for 2014

Monday, December 16, 2013

 

So 2013 is coming to an end. An opportunity for us to take stock and begin 2014 with a really strong sense of where we are, career-wise.


Ring out the old

Things have changed. The new economy is making the world of work a much more insecure and unpredictable arena. That’s the bad news. The good news is that it can also be a much more opportunity-driven and exciting place to be.

‘No such thing as a job for life anymore’: when you read these words, do they scare or excite you? The people who are getting squeezed worst in the new economy are what I call theRealists, those same steady-as-she-goes types who were in their element in the old economy.

The problem for these people is not their realism. It’s their lack of counterbalancing restlessness. They will coast along feeling bored and settle for this. They will put more time into planning their yearly holiday than mapping out their career.


Ring in the new

I am more convinced than ever that the future belongs to what I call the Restless Realists. Being career-smart nowadays means:

  • Planning for change and being resourceful
  • Taking full ownership of your career
  • Self-assessing, and rating yourself and your performance
  • Asking yourself: Is there anything I could do differently?
  • Being honest with yourself about what is and isn’t working
  • Allocating time to your career planning and treating it like an ongoing project

This new economy rewards those who know themselves. Are you clear on what motivates and drives you? Have you a clear sense of your work values? What types of environments work best for you? There are plenty of online tools to allow you do self-assessment on these issues.

In ringing in this new approach you will also want to ensure your self-marketing material is shining like your Christmas tree lights. Ensure it is up to date, current and deploying the lingo of the industry you are interested in. Keep polishing it until it shines even more. This is a constant work in progress and not just a matter of polishing it like your silver at Christmas.

The new approach requires individuals who are willing to learn, to upskill and to develop themselves. Are you doing any of this? If not, what would it take to start? We don’t have to be talking MBA here. We’re talking even short courses to demonstrate intent and to generate momentum.

The new approach also involves your strategically managing your job hunt or performance within your current role. Are you making an impact or have you been allowing yourself to become just another cog in the wheel?


Ring out the false

The false here is believing either that where you’re at now is the best available scenario or that some miracle is going to show up that will turn your career into glorious Technicolor. You’re the one who needs to show up. So take control of YOUR career.

The other fallacy is the illusion that there are no jobs. Things are tight, no doubt about it. But your job is to get yourself sorted, not to demoralise yourself by reducing yourself to statistical terms. There are jobs in growth areas. I see clients filling them every week. So ask yourself: Am I aiming towards those areas? Do I know how my skills may fit in these areas? It is your job to know these things and focus on them with laser-beam optimism.

Ring in the true

The true is simple and pretty damn inspiring: with some clever manoeuvering and smart career management you can take steps in 2013 to work towards a career you really want. Unless you give it the attention it needs it is very unlikely to happen.

Will everything fall into place nicely in 2013? Probably not. For most people this kind of thing takes time and even more sacrifice. The ones who get there in the end tend to be those who don’t consider ‘sacrifice’ a dirty word. They understand that it can be called for in the short term.

Another important truth is that we need to give thanks to those who have helped us during the year. This could be a recruitment agent, a boss, a supportive friend, a partner or an employment service.

Networking is another vital factor. It can open doors, big time. Spend some time creating a LinkedIn profile so recruiters and employers and old colleagues can find you. If you are not visible how can you be approached? People won’t be interested in you unless you make yourself interesting and accessible to them. Ensure your LinkedIn headline is relevant and attractive.

And finally…


Ring in the valiant (wo)man

We need to believe in ourselves. We also need to commit ourselves to the realities of the real world. Bringing these two aspects into productive harmony is a challenging task but if you pull it off then the power you can generate will be positively nuclear.

Allow yourself this Christmas to be visted by three Spirits:

  • First, the Spirit of Career Past. Review your own backstory, with all the achievements and setbacks and errors that mark it.
  • Second, the Spirit of Career Present. Take stock of where you are now and how you feel about your current situation.
  • Finally, the Spirit of Career Future. This is the exhilarating one. Explore various scenarios. Try them on for size. Let your imagination rip a little.

In my experience within the career development field, career success comes to those who work on themselves, come up for air and stretch themselves to grow and develop.

Ask yourself as you near the end of 2013: Have I improved and worked on developing myself before I have gone public to the market? Is my personal foundation firmly established? This will safeguard you from being derailed by setbacks, challenges and discouragements.