Long Term Loyalty to Your Career

How many times have you heard it said that there’s no such thing as a job for life any more? It may have become something of a 21st century cliché but it also happens to be true. Statistics state that you can expect to change jobs every three to four years and that you should prepare yourself for three or more distinctly different careers during your working life.

If you accept the above to be true then you must also accept that your current job is simply a stop along the way in a working life that can last anything from forty to fifty years. You need to be prepared for change – to be ready, willing and able to embrace it. You need to replace corporate loyalty with loyalty to your own career development and to do everything you can to make yourself as marketable a commodity, as desirable an employee and as significant a contributor as is humanly possible. That is the key to modern day career survival… and success.

So, how do you achieve this?

Firstly, you have to build upon the solid foundations that you already have in place and constantly be adding to your skills and experience. Technology advances rapidly, as we all know, and as some technologies can become outdated so can those workers who operate and manage them. Many employers are acutely aware of the importance of keeping skills up-to-date and it’s always well worth having a chat with the boss to intimate your desire to improve your skills – ask their advice on the best way to do so. Take your boss’s suggestions on board and report feedback on a regular basis. Keep your ears and eyes open for any problems that may exist within your department or any gaps that may need filling – offer yourself as a solution. You must take every opportunity to make it clear to that you are committed, progressive and a team player. All the time you will be building your worth to the organisation and this can only help when it comes to promotions, pay rises and other opportunities. In the longer term this will also better equip you for the next stage of your career journey.

At the mention of the word ‘networking’ many people sigh – the popular image is of grey haired men in an exclusive club swapping titbits of information and manipulating quango opportunities. However, networking is an extremely powerful tool that can be used throughout your working life – just imagine, if you work for 45 years in a variety of organisations how many people will you meet? Who knows when you may find it useful to call upon one them? A good way to start is to keep a record of the contact details of all the people you work with and continue this as you move from post to post and company to company. A call or an email once or twice a year just to keep in touch is a very effective way to maintain a database of contacts that could serve you well in future job searches, professional projects and other challenges.

Professional Associations and Institutes are a great way of keeping abreast of changes within your industry, professional development initiatives and job opportunities. Clearly such bodies are also prime networking forums.

Keeping your CV up-to-date is vitally important. Not that as the years go by and your skills-set and work experience grow your CV should grow with them – 2 pages is till very much the recommended length – but rather, your CV should always be a current reflection of your candidacy for that ideal next job. Opportunities often come along when we least expect – always be prepared to maximise them.

Even if you aren’t looking for a job right now, discreet and discerning use of internet jobsites on an ongoing basis allows you to plan future job searches and keep abreast of the typical vacancies that employers within your industry are seeking to fill. Setting up a ‘safe’ online identity, e.g. [email protected], which says what you do but not who you are, is a good starting point. You can then register for vacancy notifications by email from relevant job sites, without fear of compromise. Set aside some time every week to collate the vacancies that match your search criteria – there is no guarantee that when you come to look for a new position these employers will be looking to recruit for the same positions, but they may well be looking to fill posts of a similar nature. A weekly trawl through the recruitment pages of the newspapers will yield similar results – cut out and keep the relevant adverts.

None of the activities detailed above are labour intensive or time consuming but all can have a positive impact on your working life. If do you don’t want to spend the entirety of your 45 years simply surviving your working life then keep your ears and eyes open, your skills up to speed and your CV current – be loyal to your own career development.