Be a career strategist, not a job seeker

What will happen to all the people displaced by new machines, long-lasting materials and new methods? How will they earn a living? How will they find their place in society?
Common concerns! Good questions! Difficult to answer.
Macro-responses are beyond any company, union or government. Humans have yet to invent the institutions needed to deal with the global redefining of work.
But there are micro-responses. Individuals can ensure they won’t get caught in traumatic job losses. Author Robert Barner outlined some of those responses in “The Futurist,” the magazine of the World Future Society.
Barner says planning a career path is obsolete. Instead, you have to be a career strategist. Here is what he means.
Barner says the career strategist “keeps the planning flexible to avoid being caught off-guard by disruptive change.” Rather than company perks, personal satisfaction is the key.
The strategist takes the initiative. Instead of job security, the strategist seeks job resiliency.
To make the transition to career strategist, Barner offers five suggestions:
oTrack the broad trends in your field. Watch for road blocks and growth opportunities.
For example, in the mid-1980s, Cliff McIntosh at Quetico Centre saw the rising government debt. He expected money for government-dependent training and development to become very scarce. At the same time, the wealth-producing resource industries were about to experience severe strains.
Back then, we began to focus on the new societal needs. We shifted to working with forest-based enterprises and disseminating socio-economic information about the northwest.
oDevelop a clear picture of your underlying career and lifestyle needs.
As downsizing, reorganization and transfers happen everywhere, decide what you really want as a lifestyle. Go for what is most important, and be prepared to sacrifice or trade what’s nice but not essential.
oAccurately benchmark your skills against the best in your field.
Ask: “If I left my job today, what would my skills be worth in the marketplace?”
oCover the widest possible career changes with contingency plans.
Prepare a best-case and worst-case scenario. Plan for both. If you are employed and like what you do, plan your moves within the boundaries of your current employer.
But have a contingency plan so that you are not caught by some sudden big change.
oDevelop portable skills rather than relying solely on what is needed by one employer.
With the latter you can impress the boss but they aren’t important to other potential employers. Portable skills help you make a successful transition.
Follow Barner’s five tips and you will weather the large-scale waves of change that are everywhere. If you want more advice from Barner, see his book, “Lifeboat Strategies, How to Keep Your Career Above Water in Tough Times.”
Linda Wiens is an organization effectiveness advisor, editor of a regional newsletter, and vice-president of Quetico Centre.

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