For the first 20 years or so we have a plan. We join our family and embark on our education and this sets us on a path. At some point in our early adulthood we make a huge transition and set out on our own. How much preparation do we have for taking this plunge – domestically and professionally?
The reality is that it is tough to create our own life plan and get started on our careers once we’re left to our own devices. It doesn’t help that the workplace is increasingly uncertain. It can leave us feeling as if our employers, market forces, the economy and the government are all more in charge of our work life than we are. Organisations will sacrifice employees for the sake of profit and in uncertain times, more than ever. If organisational change is regular and uncertainty is constant, we can be forgiven if we never feel like we are in charge of our own careers.
Despite the understandable insecurity many of us currently feel regarding our work, we have it in all of us to be more confident regarding our careers. Here are some tips for doing so:
Get to grips with the business
Make business your interest and not just your work. Your confidence will increase the more that you know about what is going on in the world generally, and in business specifically. People with MBAs are of more interest to employers often because they have a deeper level of understanding about business and how organisations work.
The HR function gets criticised for not being engaged in the business enough. If you follow the macro and micro changes in a business sector or segment, you will see more clearly the likely changes and impact that they will have – and potentially on you personally.
Depend on yourself
The days when you can commit to a corporate flag are reducing. The rate of changes means that even those with a desire to keep you employed cannot promise you.
Think through what it means to take control of your career and why it’s worth taking hold of it. The long-term benefits include having less fear and uncertainty and tending to gain more control over other aspects of your life; bringing it more into balance.
Establish your network
Review your network and cut away those contacts that are not going anywhere. You also need to focus on where you want to build your network. This will be related to where you believe your working life will be going in the coming years.
Your network needs to be nurtured and developed on a continuous basis. Use the technology available. Leverage LinkedIn by updating your profile regularly, join relevant groups (start one perhaps?) and target a few relevant people to connect with.
Build your personal brand
Evaluate and update your personal brand by reviewing a range of things - your CV, your bios on Twitter and LinkedIn and your photos on the same platforms.