As 2020 turned the corner into Spring and COVID became a hashtag, layoffs started and careers were hanging in the balance. Employees who had been with companies for years were all of a sudden unemployed with outdated skills, resumes, and LinkedIn profiles. It’s important to realize that you are in charge of your own career development. Here are somethings to consider when making investments for your future career.
Keep Pace with Technology
Our career advancement and professional development is in OUR hands, not our employer’s. And with the pace of technology and social media advancements today, you must keep pace to stay relevant in the marketplace. Technology advancements impact business operations in hundreds of industries daily. Social media is influencing not only the way businesses market themselves, but has impacted how law enforcement officers perform their jobs. Some jobs that existed 30 years ago no longer exist today. Staying on top of your career and the outside influencers impacting your industry is more important today than ever.
Invest in Yourself
With something as important as your career, you cannot rely solely upon your employer to pay or provide for your professional development. Online resources are plentiful, from software programming or learning a foreign language to game theory or successful negotiations. You can find them through colleges, free or low-cost webinars, professional associations, professional conferences, short-term seminars on location and virtually, social media sites, industry journals, etc., so it shouldn’t be difficult to find any number of resources you can start diving into.
Don’t Lose Control
When professionals make the mistake of relying only on their employers to make all the calls regarding their own professional development, they start to lose control over their own career path. When budgets are reduced, professional development is one of the first items to get slashed. By investing in yourself, your career, and your professional development, you can stay relevant and knowledgeable in your industry, which is ultimately going to make you more valuable. You don’t have to go to a week-long conference and spend $3,500, you can literally search the internet and find an article. Connecting in a professional group on LinkedIn can often provide valuable resources at your fingertips.
Budget for Your Own Growth
One way to ensure you continue to provide value to your employer, co-workers, career, and customers is to dedicate a certain percentage of time and finances each year to your own professional development and career growth. I’ve seen it happen all too often…one day your company gets bought out or reorganizes, and all of a sudden, your skills and experience aren’t as valuable under the new corporate model. At that point, it’s a little too late to start playing catch up.
Assess Your Strengths
In addition to seeking out professional development opportunities on your own, having a strategic vision and an idea of where you want to go with your career is critical. If you haven’t taken time to conduct a formal or informal strengths assessment or values assessment in the last year, look at your calendar now and set aside an hour or two for some individual reflection and self-assessment. By understanding your own personal strengths, skills, and value and having a strategic vision for your career, you can take charge of your own career.
Create a Career Plan
Perhaps you don’t want to advance at this point in your career…that’s fine, but you better have a plan in place to know how to stay relevant and communicate/demonstrate your value to your employer and colleagues. If you do want to advance in your career, what experience, skills, or education are you lacking in order to successfully do that? What is a realistic timeline? Can you advance where you are, or does it require a job change?
It isn’t difficult to end up in a job that leaves you wondering what you were thinking when you took it. But there still were investments that you made to be in that position. Don’t get caught off guard by a global pandemic! Take charge of your career growth now to stay relevant and bring value for your next employer.