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Keeping career plans up to date

IN my newly published leadership development program I refer to a widely used definition of ‘career’ for discussion with the participants … career – a profession or occupation chosen as one’s life’s work.

I point out there are two important deficiencies with this definition in the modern world of work. Firstly people’s ‘professions’ are not necessarily continuous paths through their work lives. Secondly, their ‘life’s work’ hopefully entails a little more than what is happening at the office or factory.

The trend towards multiple path careers, as opposed to single tracks, is demonstrated daily by the people I encounter across the spectrum of government and business organisations I work with.

Randall was a civil engineer before he became a human resources manager with a major resources company. He spent six years in government before winning a related role with his present employer. Over a period of time his understanding of business processes and the nature of people who worked in his industry prepared him well for the role he currently performs.

Consequently, the package of skills he brings to bear adds leverage to the wellbeing of staff, and the bottom line.

Caroline was a sales assistant in retail clothing who completed a supervisory course at TAFE and became a customer service team leader with Telstra. She added practical qualifications to her aptitude for enabling people to buy what they wanted and thereby opened a door on a range of opportunities across a number of companies related to telecommunications.

Randall and Caroline are everyday examples of people who have adapted their ‘profession’ to opportunity as opposed to following a single occupation. There are a number of notable consequences that follow this increasingly apparent move towards multiple ‘careers’.

p People who embark on discontinuous careers are judged on their effectiveness on each assignment that they complete. Consequently they are gauged from job to job, as opposed to their ‘track record’.

p Such ‘careerists’ need to ensure the people who employ them recognise their contribution and take measures beyond wages and job satisfaction in order to retain them. In other words, employers need to understand the conditions that many contemporary workers seek separate from the basic ‘package’. Equally, people who seek diverse careers need to negotiate effectively for the extras they want in order to enrich their serial career.

The notion of successful balance between work and home is a particularly popular part of my leadership program. It is interesting to note the number of people in more senior roles in organisations who seek more from their careers than an endless onwards and upwards spiral related to money and complexity.

For such people the notion of career development can turn around a range of variables related to renewal as opposed to promotion. Examples of renewal factors include:

p reassessing your personal values in relation to what you are trying to accomplish at work and home;

p seeking opportunities for solitude and quiet in order to reflect on broader life issues; and

p looking at alternative career options, such as project work, lateral transfer, part-time or contract work.

It can thus be seen that, for increasing numbers of people, the business of career planning has moved away from interview techniques and ways to write remarkable resumes. There is increasing need for the individual to prefix this activity by plotting their own pathway and seeking out specialist resources to review their circumstances and plan the road ahead.

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