Times have changed, and today’s career path is not what it used to be. Consider:
- The average American changes jobs every three years.
- Today’s elementary/high school student likely will have 15 different jobs by age 38.
- One out of every four workers today is working at a company where they’ve been less than one year.
Taking charge of your career is more important today than ever. A critical element for success in today’s job market is the ability (and willingness) to continue to expand our skills, knowledge and capabilities. The days of going to college and earning a four-year degree that will carry you through a professional lifetime are most likely over.
To secure the best jobs in a constantly changing marketplace requires a lifetime learning ethic. Those who demonstrate flexibility and adaptability and learn new skills will be the winners with today’s career challenges.
If career success matters to you, here are a few steps to consider:
Ask yourself: What career path is right for me? Evaluation of your “dream career” requires an honest self-inventory around purpose, values, interests and skills. Professional career coaches provide assessment, structure, support, challenge and strategic help for this process. Many advocate some type of “soul searching” to help you align your gifts, values and talents with your vision or purpose for your work life. The goal: to identify how you will increase the likelihood of “flow” — the state of satisfaction one gets when challenge and clear goals are aligned with talents and skills.
Exploration: Most career development involves some level of exploration. Job shadowing, exploring career trends, job availability and information interviews can be helpful strategies.
Identify career goals: Stephen Covey advises us to “begin with the end in mind.” Understanding where you are going is important. You can’t hit what you aren’t aiming at. One study of Yale seniors in 1973 revealed that the 3 percent who had written goals accomplished more (financially) in their careers than the rest of their class combined. Yet studies indicate that few of us have written down our goals. Career goals provide both focus and energy.
Assessment: Taking an accurate assessment of your core strengths and identifying skill “gaps” is vital to realistic career planning. There are a number of assessment tools available, with “360” evaluations (feedback surveys from multiple raters associated with you) being one way to help identify both strengths and developmental needs.
Getting honest feedback from your superiors and peers on the areas you need to change — and then honestly and genuinely addressing them — can be the difference between a mediocre and a highly successful career.
New job assignments: Career development requires getting out of your comfort zone and trying new things. Most successful leaders report that they learned their greatest leadership lessons through difficult work assignments and accepting new job/task challenges. A few new job tasks for you to consider:
- Manage something new and/or unfamiliar (a product, team, technology, etc.).
- Coach an employee with a performance challenge.
- Work with a dissatisfied or challenging customer.
- Manage an intern.
Continued academics: Consider new technical training, certifications and/or going back to school for your advanced degree. Imagine that interview where your potential new boss states, “Hmm, I am sorry you have a master’s degree; we were looking for someone who has demonstrated less commitment to self-advancement.” Being competitive in today’s job market requires continual learning and updated skills.
Professional career development: Many of today’s most successful professionals have used career or leadership development coaches to help them advance. Hiring a career coach is an investment in you. For some, it can be the difference between going to work every day to a job they dread or one that is satisfying and rewarding.
Invest in yourself by hiring me as your career coach! I can help you learn, develop and grow your leadership and emotional intelligence abilities. I coach professionals all over the world via Skype. Call me: 360 682 5807 or email: email@example.com