The purpose for the Season 5 podcast series, which will have five episodes and will culminate after in a masterclass is to help mid-level professionals navigate the challenges and opportunities of the current economic climate through their own personal and professional development.
One of the things that I talked about in the first episode was really getting into recent changes in organizations. Nobody is shy to the fact that layoffs are going on. It felt like for quite a while, I was seeing news of layoffs pop up on my LinkedIn® newsfeed every day – different companies were letting go a couple hundred people or thousands. Layoffs have a massive impact not only on people’s professional lives, but on their personal lives as well.
It is so important to make sure that you are focused on your own development so that you are not stuck, wondering what you are going to do next and where you are going to go next. In my own research on layoffs, there was no rhyme or reason I could locate on how companies decide to conduct layoffs. The way in which layoffs are implemented (deciding who to layoff) can vary from organization to organization and quite possibly even from department to department. Just because you are good at what you do, or you are enthusiastic about what you do, it may not matter.
This means it is essential to stay focused on your own development, and to continue to learn and grow no matter what role or industry within which you are working. Continuous learning and growth enable you to stay relevant and adaptable. Within a changing job market, changing industries, and a changing economy overall, many people do not understand that they have these things called transferable skills.
I remember years ago; I was helping a group of PhD students. And one person had a doctorate in art history. She was desperately trying to find a job and she could not locate one. She said she was not qualified for this or that. What I found out after additional coaching was, she had so many skills, especially from working through and getting her doctorate. She had skills related to research, analysis, organization, project management, the list goes on and on. The challenge was that she was not able to see this because she was had tunnel vision thinking her skills were only in her area of expertise. She was not able to even think about or see all these other skills that she had honed throughout her doctorate program. There was so much potential to use these skills, whether in a role or organization that was a tie to art history or not. When it came down to it, if she was not able to stay in the field, she had all these other skills that she was able to leverage.
Make sure that you are thinking about what skills you have or that you have built up over time. How might you be able to use those in a different role, organization, or industry? There are a wide variety of transferable skills, and you may not be thinking of many of them. I recommend consulting with Uncle Google using ‘transferable skills’ in the search and checking out what you are missing!
The other reason to make sure that you continue with your professional development is to allow you to stay competitive and to achieve career success.
If you think about somebody that received their degree back in 1990 something and they have no experience, or minimal experience since graduating, and that person is paired against somebody trying to find a role who has the same degree and that person has 15+ years of experience, or maybe they don’t even have a degree, but they have 15 years of experience, who might that hiring manager select? Yes, there are a lot of variables that come into play with hiring decisions like this, but the likelihood in this situation is that the person with the experience will receive the job offer.
What are some strategies that you can use to develop your skills, and to help advance your career?
You may be in a position where you are fine with where you are currently working. You like where you are at, and you are not looking to go upward. I love the whole concept of it, it is not a corporate ladder anymore. It is a corporate jungle gym. And it is not a bad thing. It is not negative if you decide that you are going to climb down the corporate jungle gym, one or two rungs, or if you are going to go across and take a lateral move and get challenged in a different area of the business. These are all good things!
If you think about it as a corporate jungle gym, and what opportunities you might have to develop your skills it is helpful. You are still advancing your career, you are making a lateral move, or even if you’re taking a move down, to prepare to move into another area, or just to take a little bit of a breather, maybe you have some things going on in your life, it’s okay. Some of the strategies you can use to develop yourself are:
1) Seek a mentor. Sometimes there’s formal mentorship programs, whether in your organization within associations, or a different opportunities like that, that might have formal programs, you could also informally seek having a mentor and asking somebody to be a mentor to you or to spend maybe 30 minutes every week or 30 minutes every other week, to talk with you just about what you’re doing to try to improve yourself and upskill yourself.
2) Attend conferences in your area of interest, or it’s another area of interest that you haven’t quite gotten into and being able to start building relationships with individuals and learning. Attending conferences gives you insight into what some key things are going on in the field, the hot topics of interest, or to help you learn some of the fundamentals.
3) Take online courses. There are plenty of free courses and workshops available. In addition to online courses, consider podcasts, YouTube® videos, and blogs that are focused in an area of interest. Check for credibility of the instructor, host, or organization before diving into the content to ensure you are spending your time wisely.
4) Volunteer to speak or submit your name in for a conference or offer to host a workshop for an association or for your own organization. Those types of activities will help you to continue practicing your craft, and to help others who are wanting to upskill and learn more as well.
5) Identify your strengths and weaknesses. Think through what are those things at which you are good at doing. What are some things that you struggle with that are important to the industry or for the type of role for the area of focus that you could work on, you can start to set development goals? Like you would do for a project, identify different milestones in different tasks that you must do for a project. You can set up a high-level roadmap for your own development. This will help you track your progress.
6) Secure an accountability partner, someone that can help you to make sure that you are staying on track and making progress towards developing yourself.
Do not just set a goal and then forget about it. Your professional development goals should be just as important as the goals that you are setting for your business or for your area for your organization. Make sure that you do not just set it and forget about it, because you are hurting yourself. When you do that, you need to make sure that you are investing in yourself and that you are continually growing.
Focusing on your professional development helps you to stay relevant, adaptable, and competitive, to achieve that career success. Make sure that you are continually looking at what are those development goals that you set and how you are tracking against those.