Keeping Yourself Relevant in Your Career Field
As new technological advancements stream across the globe, a dizzying array of new career options are opening up in their wake. The stodgy careers of bygone-years are rapidly becoming obsolete and being replaced by a new breed of career. These new careers require specialized training, continuing education and tremendous flexibility in the face of constant change.
Just in the past decade or so, hundreds of thousands of new jobs have been created in the fast-paced fields of Healthcare, Fiber Optics, Network Administration, Web Design and Development, Computer Programming, and Web-based Marketing. As companies have scrambled to "retool" their work forces, individuals with the right skills and training have found themselves in high demand. As a consequence, the concepts of corporate loyalty, job stability and company tenure are quickly being replaced with a new culture based on reward-for-performance. Those individuals who prove themselves capable of adding value in this new fast-paced environment are rewarded in ways that previous generations could only dream about. Those individuals who cannot or will not adapt are relegated to a dwindling assortment of low-tech jobs with few opportunities for advancement.
Getting on the Gravy Train
Companies in today's competitive environment have proven themselves more willing than ever to share the wealth. Unfortunately, it has become quickly apparent that not everyone will get an equal share of the pie. In order to get a piece of the action today, employees must be willing to do more than just put in their time with a company. They must be willing to take some risk and assume more of the burden for their own career development. The strategy of waiting for an employer to train you and tell you what to do is no longer viable. Getting ahead today requires that individuals stay up on the latest trends and then proactively position themselves through a combination of experience and training to take full advantage of the most lucrative opportunities.
As you seek to maximize your own career potential, consider the following points:
Set Aggressive Goals
In today's fast-paced and ever-changing world it is more important than ever to set lofty goals. The presence of high personal expectations will help motivate you to accomplish something greater than human nature will allow on its own. The important thing to remember is that if you put forth a little extra effort you will outshine 90% of your peers - most of whom will be content to maintain the status quo.
Pursue Targeted Training
Once you have a set of lofty career goals it is time to get busy going after them. Take a few hours and research the skills and training that will be required to compete in your desired field. Take a trip to the library, visit with a peer who is already successful in this field, search the internet. Once you identify the education and training requirements of the career begin to map out a strategy to complete the training in a reasonable amount of time. Don't go overboard. You want to avoid burning yourself out right out of the chute. On the other hand, don't drag it out. Fairly rapid progress will be a continuing motivator. A too-slow pace may result in stagnation and abandonment of your career ambitions.
Seek Challenging Assignments
In order to move your career ahead you must look for ways to stand out in the eyes of your employer. One of the most effective ways of doing this is to seek out challenging and meaningful assignments. This may require a discussion with your boss. Let her know of your interest in advancing your career. Set stretch goals together that will enable you to add more value in your present position. Identify ways to get the necessary supervisory or project management experience and exposure to senior management that will lead to advancement opportunities in the future.
Seek out Developmental Relationships
Mentoring and networking are two of the most important tools in your career development arsenal. You should never underestimate the power of positive relationships with key individuals. Learn all you can from successful people. There is generally a good reason for their success. Finding ways to involve yourself in projects with these individuals, inviting them to lunch and generally looking for ways to nurture relationships will pay tremendous dividends over time.
Solicit Honest Feedback
Soliciting critical feedback is not something that comes easy for most people. However, if you are sincere in your solicitations, you will generally receive honest feedback that will help you to make positive changes. Some companies have established formal feedback tools and mechanisms to assist their employees in improving their job performance. If you are lucky enough to work for one of these companies you would be well advised to take the process seriously and learn all you can from the feedback that you receive.
Open-mindedness and flexibility will be two of the keys to your long term career success. Sometimes flexibility means being willing to relocate. Some of the most compelling career opportunities you will encounter will require a relocation - to a new city or perhaps to a new state. Of course you must be prudent in making a career decision of this magnitude. Unfortunately, most of us are programmed to feel uncomfortable with extreme levels of change. This often creates exceptional for those individuals who are willing to take a chance on a new job in a new environment.