You have probably heard that most people will change careers an average of seven times in their life. While the data behind that is under much speculation, there is something to that statement. Although you may stay in a particular role or utilize the same skill set, the industry or setting may change. You may even find yourself looking at entirely different line of work.
I am a great example of putting this into practice. As a high school English teacher, in 2008 my district experienced significant funding reductions and I was cut from my position. For many years I tried really hard to stay within education, adamant to the point where I was not even considering taking on roles outside of education. I was in competition with all of the other out of work teachers and as a result nothing much panned out that met my career goals.
During this time, I started taking adult education classes and took on little jobs that helped diversify my skills and background. This kept my skills sharp and growing. I eventually found myself working as a Temporary Staff Representative at John Leonard where my entire employment/activities background, ie. everything from my college days of coaching to administrative work, were considered when matching me to temporary and direct-hire job opportunities. Soon thereafter, through demonstrating diverse skills and flexibility, I found a new career path as a Staffing Consultant…a career I am now truly enjoying.
With this in mind, it behooves everyone, no matter where you are in your career, whether currently seeking new employment or content in a position, to keep sharp and continue to grow. Whether you are presently employed or not, consider the following means of developing your skills and flexibility:
Volunteer in your community. What cause is near and dear to your heart? Whether it’s walking dogs at the local animal shelter or coaching youth sports, volunteering is another good way of keeping sharp. By engaging in volunteer activities that speak to your passions, you will bring that energy into your workplace or to your job hunt.
Take on projects where you will learn at least one new skill and have an opportunity to keep previously honed skills sharp. In your current work situation, look for opportunities to develop skills on current projects or take on new projects for that express purpose. For example, if you are an administrative assistant but have never spent much time using a desktop publisher, next time the newsletter goes out, use it as an opportunity to learn new software or new features in existing software.
Consider hobbies that will help diversify your skills. Perhaps your day job is accounting but you are passionate about fundraising for nonprofits. That may translate into a new career path later on as you demonstrate aptitude for fundraising and develop a network in that area. In addition, it will give you experience in industries/fields outside your career.
Take classes that are related to, or completely different from, your field. Alternative perspectives and skills will keep your mind and approach fresh. Go online and take a look at course offerings through local adult and continuing education programs. Whether it’s a meditation, cooking, or financial planning class, the skills and new ways of thinking will only bring new energy and insight into your career.
By staying flexible and continuing to grow you will be able to ultimately keep yourself fresh and be in a better position to add value as an employee. Whether you have a life-long career with one company or find yourself changing positions/industries every few years, gaining extra skills/experiences is always a good way to increase your professional development.
What have you done to continuously grow…in your field or an entirely new field?