How to position yourself for your next career move
Map out more than one path to get to your destination as depicted by your career vision.
With your vision of what reasonably could happen, write out what you deem the most logical path to reach that vision. Then, write out an alternate path that is just as viable, but perhaps not what you deem as ideal. For example, maybe in one path you continue working in your current organization, helping to shape the future of your position. And perhaps in an alternate path you open your own firm, go to work for a competitor, or become an outsourced employee to your firm (as a freelancer or consultant, for example). Feel free to come up with several paths to the vision. Of course, you have no idea which path will actually transpire. But when opportunities present themselves from any of the outlined paths, you’ll be able to recognize them and act on them because you’ll have already done some planning. As a result, you’ll find yourself a step ahead of everyone else. Sometimes it’s those little steps that position you the best.
Engage in scenario planning by fully detailing the various paths to your vision.
The more detail you can give the various paths you outline, the better. While there’s no need to go overboard with a 50 page document, you should detail each path as much as you can, including timelines, new skills or training you’d need, resources that would help you at key junctures, etc. Some people naturally think in pictures and graphs, so they create a series of diagrams. Other people think in the narrative form. Regardless of your preferred style, you need to capture the information, record it, document it, share it, and then continuously refer to it and update it as things change.
It’s Your Future – Plan It
While all this may seem like a lot of work for something that may or may not transpire exactly as you plan, it really only amounts to about three hours a week of planning time. Chances are you spend more time than that watching television or surfing the Internet for fun. What if you took a few minutes from those activities and spent it reviewing the Occupational Outlook, reading articles about what the future may hold, reviewing your scenarios, sending out emails and connecting with people who may be able to help you, going to certain social and networking events, etc.? What could that do for your professional outlook?
Remember, you are responsible for your own career and ability to earn a living, not society, not the government, not your employer, not your family, and not your friends. The safety nets of yesteryear are slowly disappearing. That means it’s up to each of us to ensure our future employability. The better you position yourself for the next advance, the better your ability to respond to a changing job market and reach your career goals.
Marty Martin, Ph.D., has been speaking and training nationally and internationally for many years. His second book, "Taming Disruptive Behavior," will be published by The American College of Physician Executives (ACPE) in 2013. He is currently working on his third book, "Do You Have Career Insurance?" Martin is the director of the Health Sector Management MBA Concentration and Associate Professor in the College of Commerce at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. For more information, visit http://www.drmartymartin.com.