One of the best-kept secrets among working age adults are the many resources which are freely available for researching careers, career demand and training needs. Moreover, because we were raised in a culture of career allegiance, we do not frequently assess the need and strategies for changing careers. It is clear, however, that the days of the gold watch for serving one company thirty years are long past. This short article provides five strategies to revise our expectations and develop a new outlook to keep our career skills competitive and our employment options open.
1. Research: Once a month, check in and keep an eye on economic trends and career data. Mind you this does not have to be an onerous task. The Bureau of Labor has made it a two-click stop for us. Once you reach the State page for the Occupational Outlook site (see link below), then click information about the job market in each State. Pick whichever state you want and review the information to see current data. With just one step, you are no longer living in a void of current information!
2. Emerging Careers: Take a fresh look. With the current rapidly changing economies, politics, and technologies, new careers are emerging of which we might not be aware. The same source above, Occupation Outlook Handbook, will provide leads on the emergent careers, as well as current and future demands for them. Now cross reference that data with the training required, which is also listed there and you can evaluate those possibilities for yourself. Career changing is the wave of this era; do not be left behind.
3. Evaluate Options: Cost-benefit analysis gets personal. More than a business tactic, cost-benefit analysis can be your strategy for making successful choices about the career options you review. In this respect, it is evaluating the cost of retraining or upgrading your skills, versus the income from the new job, returning to the workforce and increase or decrease in salary. Do not forget to include possible relocation expenses if you have to change geographic areas. The great news is that unemployment benefits can be extended for some training programs. Check out your benefits, if nothing else does this might make the cost-benefit tip in favor of taking the career change leap to success.
4. Do not fall asleep at the wheel. Stay alert, and ready to seize the moment. If you are not actively seeking new information about career options, retraining and benefits you are not only losing time, but rolling backward on the wave of change. Even in the middle of the best-employed times, we need to be scanning the economic and employment landscape for trends, opportunities and strategic choices which will keep us current, most valuable and marketable. Falling asleep at the wheel of our career development is probably the last thing we can afford to do in the rapid changes of the 21st century.
5. Upgrade Your Portfolio and Offer the Same. Always add to your resume and gather recommendations. Even while you are in a good position, and especially while retraining, continue to add everything you do related to work, community involvement and education to your resume file folder. During less hectic times, go in and actually update the resume with that information. In addition, when people thank you for your fine work, insight and effort, keep those emails, cards and letters, and if you did not receive anything in writing, ask them if they could write a note of appreciation on letterhead for your records. Of course, always be ready to do the same for others. Like breeds like in life and some of our strongest assets in the job search can be the recommendations from our colleagues. Continue to strengthen those bridges of good will in professional in ethical ways.