Safe ‘lifetime jobs’ are history so widen skill sets and always be ready to move
In our parents' (or grandparents') generation it was possible to rely on a job for life. Whether you were a builder, a plumber, an accountant or a lawyer, job security could be counted on and it was realistic to envisage yourself occupying a particular role for decades.
The diversification of the job market, developments in technology and the changing face of the economy have eroded this surety. While these changes offer us unprecedented opportunities when it comes to career options, they also mean that we can no longer rely on the job we start out in being there for years to come.
This lack of job security can be unnerving, but it's possible to ensure your ongoing employability by investing in your wider career, as opposed to just your current role.
Julie Thomas is programme manager at Careers NZ. She says that by developing "career resilience", it is possible to bounce back and adapt positively to unexpected disruptions to your career.
"All workers need to be prepared for change. There is no such thing as a secure career path, and being resilient provides us with insurance against change and increases our likelihood of staying in work."
Creating networks (both formal and informal) is a good way to start increasing your employment visibility and tapping into resources that can help inform you of changes in your field. This in turn can put you in front of the right people if your current role evaporates.
Thomas says that online resources such as LinkedIn are a simple way in which to engage with people in your field of work and let others know about your skills and achievements. "Make sure that you keep your profile updated so people looking at it can know what you have to offer. This network can grow pretty quickly and lets others know your set of skills," she says.
She says that within any network it is important to be confident of your strengths. If certain aspects of your current role are becoming boring or arduous, this can reflect in your attitude. Thomas says that if this is the case, look for ways in which to tap into your "motivated" skills.
"These are the skills that you really enjoy using," she explains. "Look for opportunities around you in which you can stretch these skills. This will increase your workplace satisfaction and reflect in your attitude."
She says that this sort of positive action will pay off, as people start to view you as an active, motivated member of staff. Having a good reputation in your current role will give you good leverage when looking for opportunities in other companies.
Another simple means by which to ensure your readiness for changes in your work situation is by ensuring your CV is current. Include any training, promotions, awards or other accolades in this, and make sure it's refreshed regularly.
Professional development is important in any career; it can help grow and develop your current role as well as widening the spectrum of work you can undertake in the future. Thomas says that the simplest way of facilitating professional development is by looking at training available in your workplace, such as assignments that will stretch your skills and add to your employability.
"If you are looking for more formal professional development opportunities there are a wide range of courses available throughout the country. Check the Careers NZ website or tap into the resources that professional associations that represent your field of work have on offer," Thomas says.
Increasing your visibility through attendance at seminars and conferences is also a good way to get noticed outside your workplace. If you have an area of expertise and the opportunity to share it publicly it can help establish your reputation as a "go to" person in your field.
"Share the things you are passionate about," says Thomas. "It's important to be highly visible in your role - build your personal brand by being positive and keen to take on new challenges. This will help to ensure excellent references when moving on to other opportunities."
Thomas says that career resilience has to be underpinned by the "human stuff" like staying well, keeping mentally and physically healthy, and developing a healthy philosophy around change.
"Everyone has disappointments in their working life," she says. "But try to present your best self even through the hard times.
"It's also important not to denigrate the people around you through these times. If you try to remain positive and pull yourself back up you will prove you have the skills to survive the tough times."