Future Proof Your Career This Year

We are living in unprecedented times. A time of volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. Who knows what the next few weeks will bring? Are we Brexiting with a deal, no deal or are we not Brexiting at all? The uncertainty is bad for businesses and businesses all over are trying to manage the process as best as they can. Companies are rolling out plans to cut jobs amid fears of a hard Brexit and its impact on bottom lines.

Tesco reportedly plans to axe 15,000 jobs. This follows similar announcements by Asda. The retail sector is being hard hit but it seems no industry is safe at this time. Last week I wrote about the fact that we women tend to bear the brunt of redundancies, so I thought this week, I’d balance the scale with some advice on how to make yourself irreplaceable. That is the only way to survive in these uncertain times.

  1. We only have 24 hours and if you want to add value, then you need to be contributing to value-adding work. The only way to do that is to free up time from doing meaningless people pleasing jobs so you can focus on jobs that make you indispensable. So first, stop volunteering for non-promotable work. Not all work is created equal. Some tasks are the routine dead-end tasks which add no value to your career other than making you feel less guilty for not contributing more. When the axe comes down it’s the staff spending their days doing routine work that gets hit the first.
  2. Build a strong network – we hate to admit it, but business is all about politics. Who do you know and what information do you have access to? Get yourself known in the business and invest in building a strong profile internally as well as externally.
  3. Focus on promotable, value-adding work. The flip side of saying ‘No’ to non-promotable work is learning to be more courageous and saying ‘Yes’ to promotable work even if you feel you are not ready for it. Asking for responsibility in the areas that will demonstrate your value to your company reinforces enthusiasm and commitment to your career.
  4. Be clear on your next step – what do you want? I mean, what do you really want with your career? With clarity comes action and action no matter how small in the right direction yields confidence over time. Make your intentions to stay and to help grow the business and back up your words with action.
  5. Be seen and heard - most women are brought up to be perfect and not brave. And to most people ‘perfect’ means looking good. This is not the time to stay under the radar. Learn to embrace new challenges and to contribute your thoughts and opinion in meetings. This is not the time to be the wallflower.
  6. Take more risks – everyone else will be playing it safe and trying to stay under the radar but it is indeed too late for that. You have to take some risks if you want to get ahead. You will fail and that is a part of the process. As Arianna Huffington wrote, “failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success.” There is really no wasted experience if we are to learn from it. Failure shapes us, makes us humbler, more resilient and gives us more empathy as we embrace more leadership responsibility.
  7. Become an independent thinker. You cannot go far if you need public approval and validation for every single action that you take. Sometimes your decisions won’t please everybody; remember not even the Messiah Jesus was able to please everybody all the time. You need to act with conviction and belief. Your integrity should matter more than following the masses.
  8. Bad days do not mean that you have to give up – when you feel like giving up remember why you started.
  9. It is okay to be yourself. It is okay to be yourself. That needed repeating because far too many women feel they have to assume a new personality just because they think that is what they need to get ahead. Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.
  10. Keep learning new skills and investing in yourself. Map out any qualifications and skills you need to be able to progress within your organisation. Some organisations offer personal development freely to all those who want to develop themselves. Others do not! That should not stop you from investing in yourself. There are unlimited opportunities for personal development these days which will keep you employable and your skills relevant for the future workplace.

It is time to take control of your career. 

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