Sunday, April 24, 2011

It’s Your Future (You Can Cry If You Want To).

While the business world continues to recover from a global recession that has forced the closure of many organisations (both good and bad) and when many individuals have lost their jobs around the world (both young and old) - have you spent enough time considering your future career and developing a well thought out strategy that will take you to where you want to go.

As the world’s population continues to grow and more and more people search for their dream jobs, it will become your responsibility (and not anyone else’s), to define your own future and to ‘fight’ for it. Guaranteed employment is a luxury of a past age that will soon appear as myths and legends of a lost civilisation. In many cases a hundred years ago, sons followed their fathers into their occupations, with a virtual guaranteed place after school and a lifetime of employment with a trophy, like a gold watch, your only reward for offering your services for thirty to forty years.

Now the world has changed and there is keen competition for placements all over the world, from sixteen year olds upwards (until you retire). You can no longer afford to relax or assume that a top qualification will guarantee you anything other than a more focused look from a recruiter – certainly there are fewer and fewer guarantees of getting a job – and even fewer, if any, guarantees of having the career you always dreamed of.

The smart individual will start planning their career from an early age, building the appropriate contacts and networks, both from family connections and from those offered by schools, colleges and universities. This will mean a significant change in the current approach to career planning – which was something that was often left until after leaving school or the final year of university. In today’s global economy that may be too late, with the supply of talent likely to outstrip demand over the next few decades. It will be important for you to have the right contacts and practical experience, beyond the basic qualifications, that will make you stand out from the crowd and give you your own individual competitive advantage.

For those currently in jobs and planning their future careers the same will be true – individuals will need to form and build strategies that support their career ambitions, which will be based on a solid contact base, a unique individual brand and the right mix of proven practical experience and recognised qualifications.

In fact a smart strategy for career planning will include;

1) Building a diverse and professional network that can support your career goals and allow for flexibility as your career develops;

2) Constantly learning from those with experience in the recruitment field - but not expecting them to do your work for you;

3) Learning about different career paths and the appropriate vertical and horizontal tracks to success;

4) Knowing yourself; and ensuring that you have your feet firmly on the ground, so that your career expectations are always realistic (otherwise the only person who will be disappointed is you);

5) Developing your own ‘unique’ individual brand that gets you noticed for the right reasons from an early age;

6) Never stopping learning;

7) Having regular interviews to keep yourself up-to-date with the market and interview techniques (as you never know when you might need it);

8) Remember it’s your future and you have the power to influence your own career destiny – so start planning your career options today, whether you are sixteen or sixty – and maybe your dreams will come true.

There are less job opportunities today than ever before and the outlook is bleak, with many organisations around the world still automating manual jobs, meaning the market will only get tougher. One can take a slightly arrogant perspective that this applies to everyone else but you – confident that your experience and qualifications will always make you sought after and hence always employable. But if you don’t have the right contact base and aren’t ‘visible’ for the right reasons – it’s just possible that in today’s job market you might not get noticed. When this time comes, it’s too late to change the past – so the only thing you can do is influence your future and your future career opportunities.

Whether at school, university or currently working, use all the services and activities that are offered to support you and your career quest to the full. There’s no time like the present to assess your career path and devise the right strategic path to take you where you want to go – just making sure that you implement it correctly.

It’s your future – so take control of it and your own future success; or you can expect others to do it for you and then when it doesn’t work out ‘you can cry if you want to.’

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