How to position yourself for your next career move
Have you thoughtfully planned out your next career move? Most people have not. While they may have a vague idea of what their profession will look like in the future, they aren’t sure how to position themselves for optimum growth. But because the work world is changing so rapidly, planning your path and positioning yourself for the next advance is a critical step all professionals must take.
Of course, since no can foretell the future, planning often involves ambiguity—and that’s where the challenge lies. Most people have a low tolerance for uncertainty, so they don’t bother creating a plan. And while it’s true that neither you nor anybody else, not even experts, can predict the future, you can map out possible scenarios. Doing so increases your ability to adapt to changing situations and helps you see future opportunities others may miss.
Following are some suggestions for making your plan as realistic as possible so you can properly position yourself for future success.
Conduct research on the current and future job market.
You can find many online resources to help you better understand which professions and industries are growing, which are shrinking, and which are evolving into something different. One is the Occupational Outlook created by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/ooh/). The other is O*NET Online (http://www.onetonline.org/), which is a partner of the American Job Center Network. Both of these resources will give you an accurate overview of a variety of professions, including both current and future trends. Use this information as a way to gauge job growth (or possible shrinkage) in your industry.
Read magazines that focus on future trends.
There is an entire profession focused on future studies in which people called Futurists analyze trends in particular areas and make educated predictions about where we as a society are heading. Sometimes, the predictions focus on a key area or profession, such as healthcare or robotics. Other times the predictions are more general. The World Future Society (http://www.wfs.org/) is the leading futurist organization. In addition to their website and blog, they publish a magazine called The Futurist. Read some current issues or subscribe to it so you can keep up-to-date on upcoming career and industry trends.
Develop a written vision for your career spanning a short term, medium term, and long term horizon.
Using the information you gather about the probable future of your profession or industry, combined with what you know or personally see going on around you, create a vision for what your career could look like in five years, ten years, and fifteen years. Granted, as you extend the timeline, you increase the level of uncertainty, but the goal is not perfection. The goal is to give you a vision of what’s possible so you can start positioning yourself for that future vision today.