By April Clark
Uncertainty about the future of the U.S. economy may make you nervous, but it represents an opportunity to step up and manage your own career.
A key trend affecting workers is that employers are getting better at carefully evaluating their headcount needs. Staffing decisions are often based on individual performance and available skills rather than just payroll numbers. It is incumbent upon you as an employee to keep your skills up to date and marketable.
Regardless of how secure you feel about your job, it is well worth the time and effort to manage your career. Here are some things you can do:
- Define your career objectives. Individuals who know where they are going tend to get there faster. Look objectively at the role you have within your organization and compare it to the role you want. What specific skills do you need to get there?
- Be aware of the skills that are needed within your industry/career and take action. You can easily find this information through industry trade publications, online resources or government agencies. If training is needed, embrace opportunities to update your skills or learn new ones. Training doesn't have to involve advanced degrees. Attending workshops, taking online courses, or even participating in a webinar over a lunch hour can make you more valuable to your employer.
- Find a mentor who is doing what you want to do. A mentor doesn't have to be someone older than you; it is simply someone who has skills and knowledge that can benefit you and your career.
- Be a leader. If you can position yourself as someone who coworkers come to with questions, you'll have a good opportunity to demonstrate value to your organization.
- Consider a career change. The future looks bright for individuals with technical skills. According to the Manpower Hardest Jobs-to-Fill List, hands-on jobs such as machinist, mechanic, carpenter, welder and electrician are in short supply and the demand is expected to remain strong for the foreseeable future.
- Be open to part-time, temporary or contract work in an industry you want to enter. Temporary positions can serve as a bridge to permanent employment. In fact, 40 percent of Manpower staffing associates are hired as permanent employees by our clients.
As you're thinking about your career, consider this: as recently as 15 years ago, a worker could expect to have, on average, two jobs between 18 and 38 years of age. That has changed dramatically. Today, the average is 10 jobs between 18 and 38 years of age.
What does all this mean? Quite simply, the world of work is constantly changing. Embrace those changes that get you closer to your goals.
Easier Than You Think
Also, keep in mind that taking control of your career isn't as difficult as it sounds, even in a challenging labor market. Employers are often providing incentives, such as flex-time, telecommuting, job sharing, etc., to individuals that have the skills they want. But, it's up to you to take action.