Why You Should Always Be Ready to Take Stock and Recalibrate Your Trajectory
By Dr. Sandy Marcus
Most of us generally think of “career planning” as most important when we’re still in school or at the very beginning of our working life. Once we’ve decided “What do I want to do when I grow up?” we think that the rest is simply following through – getting the education, training, and credentials we need to get a job in the field we have chosen. That’s usually as far as “career planning” goes for most people.
This might have made sense a century ago, when you’d get your education, academic diplomas, certifications, training, and then practice your profession the same way for the next 30 years. When you retired, you’d be doing exactly the same thing you were doing when you started out.
Well, those days are gone. Today’s job and career world is one of constant, dramatic change. We’ve seen brand new occupations emerge and then become obsolete within a handful of years. The major focus of this, of course, has been in the computer industry, where change is so fast that the skills of someone who graduated with a degree in an area such as computer programming 3 years ago are obsolete today.
Constant re-training, upgrading of skills, education, and new learning are now the norm. Therefore, it turns out that ongoing, constant, and careful career planning is now important throughout our careers and even into retirement.
What does this mean to the average person in today’s world of work? Here are some general guidelines that should help you avoid an early obsolescence in your career:
First, keep current your knowledge of what is happening in your field or the industry in which you work. What are the trends, the opportunities, the challenges, the changes? And how do those impact your particular occupation? So, once every 3 or 4 months, take a look at industry newsletters, trade journals, industry bulletins, and the like. Where is your field going? What new skills will you need? What old skills are on their way out?
Second, while you may not need to get another academic degree, do make sure you regularly (maybe once a year and the very least) take a course, or a seminar, or some sort of training in one of the “cutting edge” aspects of your occupation.
Third, keep your resume updated, and especially include all of the ongoing upgrading of your skills and knowledge. That will indicate to a current and potential employer that you are keeping up with the latest changes and therefore are competitive in today’s environment.
And fourth, be willing to take on (even briefly) a new role that you may have not considered before, and get the training that will help you in that role. For example, even if your current job does not include some of these roles, get some training in: sales, marketing, management, consulting, training others, public speaking, project planning, team building, or coaching, etc.
Armed with these actions, you will be much better prepared for the changes that are inevitably occurring in today’s world of work.