Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Should I stay or should I go? 8: thinking through careers per se and understanding where we are now and where we would go from there 1

Posted in career development, job search, job search and career development by Timothy Platt on January 31, 2016

This is my eighth installment to a series on intentionally entered into, fundamental job and career path change, and on best practices for deciding both when and how to carry through on it (see Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, postings 416 and following for Parts 1-7.)

I began explicitly discussing career changes, as opposed to job changes in Part 7 of this series, and as a starting point to this installment I repeat two points that I raised there.

1. Everyone who is working in our current business environment and who is planning on continuing working there for any significant period of time, has to be prepared to make both same-career path job changes, and more fundamental career changes too, over the course of their work lives.
2. And many and even most of us, can expect to find ourselves working later in our professional lives at jobs and with skills that did not even exist when we started out, and certainly for anyone who works with rapidly evolving technologies.

To be clear on that second point, I am not just referring to people who work in high tech fields and who create those new technologies when I write that; I am referring to virtually everyone else too, who uses the products of new and emerging technologies.

I stated at the end of Part 7 that I would continue it with a discussion of careers per se, and what that term is coming to mean. And I added in that context that I would discuss this complex of issues at least in part from the perspective of better understanding where we are now professionally, and where we would seek to go from there if we are to pursue a best work life for ourselves. And I begin that with the absolute fundamentals:

• Building and pursuing an ongoing work life is coming to mean searching for new work opportunities and then performing at them once attained, with an essential understanding that any here and now employment will lead with time to next new jobs and next career steps. And if we are to succeed long-term in our work life we have to hold this awareness firmly in mind. And this really can be expected to apply to essentially everyone who works.
• Stated perhaps more directly, this means you’re never becoming complacent and never taking a currently held job for granted – and no matter how much you enjoy it, no matter how good you are at it, no matter how much your direct supervisor and your overall employer value you for working there, and no matter how well you get along with and work with your colleagues there and with that business’ clients and customers.
• This means always keeping your professional networking alive and active, and that means staying actively reaching out to new contacts and staying connected with current ones (see my four part series: Jumpstarting Your Networking, as can be found at the top of the directory page Social Networking and Business.)
• This means always looking for opportunity to improve your skills and opportunity to develop wider experience that you can cite as having, when and as you need to market your professional capabilities for what you can offer.
• This means always keeping your eyes open and both to potential challenge, such as possible layoffs or downsizings where you are now, and to potential new opportunities.

In this, we all need to start thinking like consultants, who move from client business to client business as their career path, and who have to be prepared to take next job assignment steps as a basic part of their work life as a whole (see my series: Consulting Assignment Life Cycle at Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 2, postings 225-249 for a more general discussion of consulting per se as an overall career path.)

And this advice and its approach are very different from the jobs and careers approaches that have been more traditionally taken by most people – who are that much less likely to be prepared for the unexpected and who are that much more likely to find themselves blindsided by change, and to their detriment, as it arises.

I also said at the end of Part 7 of this series that I would discuss some specific scenarios in which we would have to make career changes. I will continue this posting’s discussion with that, and with a focus on navigating career change. Then, as also noted, I will look into the special case issues of founding a startup. And then after that I will discuss retirement as a stay or go scenario, where this increasingly means tapering off employment and making career changes rather than simply moving from being fully employed to no longer working.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3 and at the first directory page and second, continuation page to this Guide.

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