What are you doing to progress your career?

Are you concerned about where your career is heading?

Maybe you are unhappy in your job or feel your skill and expertise are not being full use.

In reality you are in control. You can control how to progress your career.

Technical professionals who are prepared, have enormous opportunities in the next decade. This is because of the shortage of qualified professionals with the skills and expertise, to plan, design and implement infrastructure and services.

The impact of changing age and skill profiles, resulting from poorly considered recruitment policies, and ongoing organisational change, has meant a serious loss of expertise and reduction in capacity.

What does this mean for professionals?

There will be great opportunities for those who prepare themselves. Career progression is achievable via multiple pathways, involving lateral and vertical moves (more lattice than ladder!), but you must take responsibility for building your portfolio of broader, together with specialised skills and experience.

Take active control of your career

This requires that you know yourself (Discovery), decide on where you want to be, in say five years time (Design), gain required skills and experience (Develop) and map out your action plan (Deliver).

Write your own script, rather than expecting it to be written for you, be vigilant on your own behalf, and identify and prepare for opportunities, rather than expecting to be guided by your employer.

Know your strengths

To make informed choices about your future it is critical to understand yourself first — your unique skills, talents and experience, your strengths and weaknesses, preferences and interests.

Knowing this helps you discover what best motivates and energises you, which in turn allows you to seek those elements in your preferred professional practice. Don’t try to be something you are not!

How marketable are you?

It is not realistic to believe that job security continues to exist, there are no ‘permanent’ jobs anymore. But you can be secure in the marketability of your skills, knowledge and experience. Carefully design what you offer and how you can add value to a potential employer.

Know your market — where your industry is heading, and what business your current and potential employers are in.

Build your competence

Stay current in your field and continue to develop your skills, broaden your knowledge and understanding about related fields — more and more you need to be a specialist in a particular area, but also have a broader knowledge, about business for example.

This means taking courses, attending seminars and conferences, reading books and journals, and developing new skills.

Don’t prepare for jobs — prepare for areas of competence and roles and think about how can you deliver your work better.

You may have a single job title but have many roles: leader, problem solver, team builder, mentor, facilitator, project manager, analyst, and/or expert — decide which of these you enjoy and build that capability.

Think also of the marketable skills that complement your technical abilities, such as being resilient, resourceful, innovative, risk-taking, reliable and market driven. Employers are looking for these attributes.

Have a future outlook

Many people have only a limited understanding of trends and developments in their profession and even less knowledge of broader social and business trends.

You can’t rely on the accuracy of long-term occupational forecasts, nor should you try to make career choices on what kind of work you think will be in demand, rather than what you are best suited to.

Be aware of the implications of current and emerging demographic, economic and social trends for your future career.

Many people have only a limited understanding of trends and developments in their profession and even less knowledge of broader community and business trends.

Test yourself: Can you identify three significant trends or emerging technologies that will have a significant impact in your profession in the next five years, and what they will mean for you?

Be realistic

Set realistic expectations and be the best you can.

Regularly update your portfolio, including information on new achievements.

Instead of beating yourself up over things that didn’t work out, remind yourself of your success and achievements, and celebrate them.

You will be in the right job if:

  • you look forward to going to work;
  • you feel energised by what you do;
  • you feel your contribution is respected and appreciated;
  • you are enthusiastic when describing your job; and
  • feel optimistic about the future.

Prepare for your next act.

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