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Disaster proof your career

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Surviving and thriving in today’s competitive markets and workplaces needs some active organising if you are going to be “career-fit” suggests Patrick Forsyth.


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 The dynamic economic environment has wrought many changes of late, and the world does not owe you a living. Nor currently can you realistically assume that regular, automatic assistance will be forthcoming from an employer intent on furthering your career, or even assisting you perform the job you do for them currently satisfactorily.

Realistically you need to take the initiative and adopt an active approach to developing your competence to do what you need to be able to do now, and what you will need to be able to do in the future; specifically to:

  • Become secure in your existing job and role
  • Be ready and able to take on new challenges
  • Appear an asset to your organisation (and your boss) making you worth developing and promoting on up and through the organisation structure
  • Be desirable in the job market if you choose to move on to another employer
  • Obtain fair and satisfactory rewards for what you (and improve this too if that is an aim).

In changing times (and change must be seen as the norm) and in a competitive workplace you need to be what we might call “career fit” now and in the future, regardless of age, seniority, gender, or experience and in whatever kind of organisation you work. You must sensibly look at how to make what you do and how you do it successful; and at how to make it go on being successful over time.

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Two areas of action

So, you must ensure this expertise development takes place, that your knowledge is kept up to date, your skills continue to be finely tuned and that you are able to do an equally outstanding job tomorrow, next week or next year whatever new circumstances you face. So a first area of action is development; not just taking advantage of what development is offered, but instigating ongoing self-development too. If you would like to improve your presentation skill check out “How to control your nerves during presenting“.

A second, so often underestimated and neglected, is appraisal. Appraisals should be constructive and act as a regular catalyst to the process of development. Here too you can take an initiative, making sure that you understand the process, are well prepared and insisting on action based sessions that actually take you forward and make success in the following period more likely. It is not just the actual changes that you make that matter, ensuring you are seen in the right way is also vital and cultivating a positive image is something else that won’t just happen. It too needs an active approach.

All this is an aspect of what might be called active career management, a process that must be made manageable and effective (the box shows 10 key approaches).

Top tips for achieving career fitness

  1. Resolve to be a regular “self-developer”- the development you need won’t just happen
  2. Analyse and set clear objectives – you must know where you intend to go
  3. Make and use a plan – you need precision here
  4. Create sufficient time – not too much, but when and where needed
  5. Learn from experience – think and analyse after the event and look ahead
  6. Learn from others – colleagues, your boss, mentors
  7. Spot opportunities – remain aware of what might help
  8. Utilise a mix of methods – remember that there is no magic formula
  9. Monitor progress – keep tabs on how things are going
  10. Aim high – no other way will achieve as much.


Of course, fitting in such a thread of activity is not easy. But for anyone wanting to become – or remain – successful, inaction is simply not an option. Perhaps we might wish otherwise, but as Beverly Sills said: There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.

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