Rarely do you hear about the perils of planning, yet when it comes to taking control of your work life, long-term plans will more likely throw you off course than keep you on track.
In the past when we talked careers we talked three- to five-year plans, but that’s when someone worked for one company maybe all their life. Jobseekers were criticised if they moved jobs in under five years, and those who were in a job and seeking change as early as the two-year mark, well, they were considered job hoppers and a flight risk.
So, we all get that the pace of change is extraordinary and there’s a tonne of data to support that.
Old jobs and industries are disappearing and new ones are popping up. Pity the taxi owners who shelled out $250k for a licence. But even the Uber drivers of today may soon be replaced by driverless cars, just as many other roles will ultimately be displaced.
All of the data points to an increasingly rapid pace of economic, technological and social change. But these are also exciting times. New jobs are being created – think chief disruption officer, bot developer, virtual reality engineer. New industries are springing up, and amazing opportunities will continue to abound.
How to deal with the evolving career landscape
If long-term career planning won’t cut it as development tool, what will?
Words like resilience and adaptability are being bandied about in business and the media at the moment… and for good reason.
To thrive in a world of rapid change we need to cultivate the skills of flexing, of observing what’s going on around us and frequently adapting to the flow of new information.
As the private equity guys all say, look at the data points.
This does not necessarily mean you quit your course, your job or your secondary education. But maybe you will.
The importance of self-knowledge
What’s critical is that you build up your picture of who you are. What drives you? What motivates you? What can strip you of that motivation? Learn about yourself. Be clear about the things that get you out of bed (apart from the alarm) and the kinds of stuff that help you build a sense of purpose. This is the most powerful determinant of satisfaction not only in work but in all of your life.
Get feedback from those who know you well.
Let go of the rigid plan
You ust toss out the old notion of a rigid and long-term plan. Work at establishing shorter-term goals that can connect you to things you find interesting and provide a sense of where you want to head broadly. Work to continually synthesise new market data. Listen loudly to the faint signals. Much like off-road driving, having a sense of your direction is as important as dealing with the landscape you find yourself in right now.
And importantly, understand that this is a fluid process.
Focus on skills
Know what skills you have. Learn what’s in demand now. Honestly explore where your skills are at – are they basic, developed or evolving? Check in on this after any project or job. This is a process of continual refinement.
If you’re at the very early stage of your work life, be prepared to get a job and build skills rather than focus entirely on getting a career-related position. Getting a job can help you learn about work, and learn more about yourself, while building experience and a CV in the process.
Increasingly, we must take ownership of our own development, as many employers may shy away from funding development that’s not directly related to the work you are doing for them. Consider shorter courses that can round out and build your skills.
Think of your career as an evolving portfolio. Not all the skills you build will be in one job. Your part-time/contract role or even the small business you run on the side of your full-time role or study will afford substantial opportunities for building up your know-how.
Think of your work life as a mosaic, a rich tapestry of parts interwoven, that can be built upon. Learn to continually reflect and update your picture of yourself (LinkedIn and your CV etc.) so that you’re consciously developing your skills and documenting your journey in real time, not just when you’re next looking for a job.
If you need help finding your career direction, contact TwoPointZero today.