Thursday, December 27, 2007

Career Development - Training For Two (or more) Careers

The working environment these days is insecure, and there is no such thing as a job for life any more. While some careers are far more secure than others, such as a profession with rare skills like veterinary surgeon or doctor, generally speaking you should not expect to go into a job for life when you leave college or university. You may not even get the type of job you want in the career that you want.

When you start to think about career training, it is probably in your interests to be prepared for alternative careers, or maybe careers that can be moved from one industry to another. If you set off on a single track and that route hits a dead end, then you may struggle to redirect yourself into another career.

Precisely how you go about dual career training is going to depend on what your first choice career is, and the types of skills that are required for that career.

I will use my own example and hope that it may give you some ideas for your own situation. As a teenager I presumed I would make a living from writing, but I was realistic enough to realise that that would not happen overnight, so started working in offices at 18, in order to save money for travelling and take off 6 months at a time to write.

I soon realised, back in 1970, that there were two skills that would become increasingly important across a wide range of jobs: finance and computing. With writing in the background, I focused on developing finance and computing skills, and always keep up with developments.

As it turned out, like many who aspire to writing, I made no living from that whatsoever; although today, 36 years later, I do. In the meantime, I have metamorphosed through computer systems analysis, computer system testing, qualifying as a management accountant and into project management where all those skills were used. I was able to move from one project to another quite different type of project without too much of a problem. All of that set me up with the business skills and confidence to have my own business in the UK.
Tip! Identify your area of interest: Throughout your career, you probably have had some ideas that you weren't able to implement due to circumstances. You can convert some of them if you play your cards right here.

Looking back, it was important that I kept developing a range of skills and was flexible about moving between jobs and disciplines. I had several career changes along the way, but all built on that original decision to develop skills in finance and computing. All that led to being able to take an occupational pension early, at 50, and carve out a new living online and writing from my dream location, a tropical island in the Philippines.

Your situation, aims and ambitions will be very different to mine, but I do believe there are some lessons to be learnt from the way my "careers" have run into each other and from each other. From examining your own experiences, training and ambitions, you may well be able to spot some ways you can better prepare yourself for dual careers or career changes. There could come a day when that is critical.
Tip! I will take the advice of others with a grain of salt and always remember that it's my career not theirs.

This career development article was written by Roy Thomsitt, owner and part author of the Routes To Self Improvement website.

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Get Your Career On Track

If you've watched the cable television show on Bravo called ‘Inside the Actors Studio,' you've seen host, James Lipton, ask his guest celebrities to respond to the Bernard Pivot questionnaire, which includes two questions about what guests would most like to do, and most not like to do, outside their chosen profession:

1. What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?

2. What profession would you not like to do?

(For example, Robin Williams would like to be a ‘Neurologist' and would not like to be a ‘Bomb Tester,' Sarah Jessica Parker would like to be a ‘Grocery Store Proprietor' and would not like to be a ‘Chicken Plucker'.)
Tip! Don't think of crashing the career party. Stop pounding on closed doors.

Identifying your dream and nightmare jobs is important because it helps you begin to think about what you most want and not want in a career.

How is a career different from a job, or is it?

A career might be defined as ‘a chosen pursuit; the general course or progression of your working life or your professional achievements.' Your career is more of an ongoing process than a job title; it's more about the journey than the destination. Jobs are generally part of your ongoing pursuit or progression, and we tend to have different jobs within a career.

How do you develop—or build—your career?

Career development is the game plan for progressing your career in the direction you want. It is ‘the strategic acquisition over time of the knowledge, attitudes, and skills you need to 1) meet the needs of your employer, and 2) reach your personal long-term work-life goals.'
Tip! As a Chief Experiential Officer, you need to talk to the people who are actually in the career you've identified for yourself. It takes you from dream mode to reality check.

Although our career is about what we want, it's also about what our employer needs. To progress, we have to continuously improve our value to our employer and maintain our marketability in a highly competitive world. No employer ‘owes' us a job if we don't meet the needs for which we were hired. No employer ‘owes' us a promotion just because we've been around awhile. Our career success is up to us.

You may want a long-term career with your current employer, or you may have more short-term plans. The goal of this workshop is to take an honest look at your career options and what you can do to increase your chances of reaching your career goals, either within or outside your current employer.

Why should your employer care about developing your career? Why not just focus on your short-term performance in your current job?

Because it makes sense. Your organization needs to attract and retain the best people to compete in a highly competitive industry. Therefore, it wants all employees to thrive, be satisfied, be challenged, and constantly improve. People who know what they want to achieve in their long-term careers — and feel they are moving toward it — are more likely to perform at high levels today.
Tip! An experienced career counselor will have a lot of knowledge and experience of various employment markets. This means the counselor will see the other side of the career coin, with which you may be unfamiliar, and this can help you a great deal.

To build your career, you should constantly ask yourself 3 questions:

Where am I now? Where do I want/need to be? How will I get there?

I don't want to suggest that you should not be satisfied with your current job (I hope you love your work and feel that it is fulfilling enough to be considered a significant part of your career aspirations). However, you should have a progressive and ongoing plan to build marketable skills and move yourself towards long-term career success.
Tip! Consult campus career counselors who will help you identify and improve your aptitude in your weak areas.

Dave Neal has helped develop thousands of employees and managers in organizations around the world for over 15 years. He is a senior partner at 4th Street Training. Web: Blog: Email: