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Career Focus: Relevant, Competitive and Marketable

Whether the end goal is to maintain your current role, land a promotion, or find a new job, staying relevant, competitive, and marketable is especially critical in turbulent times.

Career Focus Relevant Competitive Marketable
image courtesy of Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

In a volatile and uncertain market, job security may feel beyond your control. But you’ll have a better chance of weathering the storm if you maintain an optimistic outlook and direct your energy toward developing a strategy.

Staying relevant can help protect your current job by highlighting the value you bring to your organization. With a little extra effort, you’ll also become more competitive and marketable. This combination is how you gain an edge over the competition when you are up for a promotion or actively interviewing for a new job.

Here’s how you can continue to move your career forward while minimizing the potential of becoming a casualty of changing times:

Professional Development

Don’t wait for your employer to sign you up for a class or suggest training. Invest in yourself and take the initiative to learn, grow, and evolve! Update and upskill with online courses, certificates, and degrees from a wide array of world-class universities and companies. A few options to consider:

Traditional Education

  • Trade Schools
  • College Courses
  • Continuing Education
  • Certificate Programs

Online Learning

Coursera and edX deliver online learning offered by major U.S. Universities. These platforms provide options that include low-cost certificate programs as well as auditing certain courses for free.

Udemy is another unique online educator with more than 100,000 online video courses starting at $12.99. Courses cover everything from Yoga and Herbalism to MS Office, Leadership and Communication Skills, or Python Bootcamp.

Clients & Customers (Internal and External)

The needs of clients and customers will evolve over time, but those needs can also change on a dime due to outside influences or market changes. Stay on top of client needs, anticipate changing needs, and be nimble enough to pivot in rapid response when the situation calls for a sense of urgency.

Consider these pivotal problem solver examples:

  • Automakers shifted gears without hesitation to meet market demand for ventilators and personal protective equipment.
  • Fashion designers flipped the switch to produce hospital gowns and masks.
  • Netflix Party filled the gap of closed movie theatres. This offering allows quarantined friends and family to watch movies and shows together by incorporating a group chat function for reactions and discussions. Just byop (bring your own popcorn).

Become an invaluable business partner by looking for problems to solve and present solutions to those problems.  Craft innovative new products or services to meet customer needs even if that means stepping outside of your own comfort zone.

The Competition

Learn from the competition. Find out what your competitors do differently that makes them successful. But to be really innovative, take a cue by learning from the mistakes they’ve made and where they have failed. The best lessons and discoveries often come from the aftermath and hindsight of failure.

Communicate with Purpose

  • Hone your ability to articulate ideas and thoughts. Those who can relay complex and technical information in layman’s terms are especially appreciated.
  • Learn to professionally navigate adversity and disagreements with grace.
  • Demonstrate your ability to communicate at all levels of the organization (shop floor to C-Suite or Board Room)

Establish a Reputation

Generally speaking, attitude predicts behavior and has an effect on the workplace. We naturally gravitate toward the person whose glass is half-full and in times of turmoil or change, this is the person who is likely to remain in place, even with less experience than others. Skills can be taught but attitude is inherent.

Establish a reputation for being a “Doer and a Problem Solver”. Back it up with action, not just talk. Be proactive, innovative, flexible, trustworthy and reliable. And above all else, be empathetic, positive and optimistic.

Collaborate & Build Consensus

The best team players are those who invite the thoughts, ideas, and opinions of others. They can effectively negotiate to find common ground and solutions.

Elevate these coveted traits to a whole new level by demonstrating that you are willing and able to effectively take a hands-on approach as circumstances dictate.

Wear Multiple Hats

The words, “it’s not my job” shouldn’t exist in your vocabulary. Moreover, in changing times, you need to continuously be willing to step outside the boundaries of your role. Instead of waiting to be tapped, pro-actively raise your hand to volunteer. Take on responsibilities outside of your usual scope, or participate in a task force or project team.

Whatever It Takes

Support your manager and company leadership through difficult decisions. Embrace change with a willingness to keep an open mind and a positive “whatever it takes” attitude. That includes offering understanding and patience when faced with unpleasant situations that directly impact you such as:

  • Lost or delayed promotions or transfers
  • Demotions or unanticipated (and less than desirable) transfers
  • Pay cuts, changes in incentives and benefits

Be a Survivor

“What you think you become.

What you feel you attract.

What you imagine you create.”

-Buddha

To be a survivor, act like a survivor. Think, believe, and envision it. Stay relevant, competitive, and marketable by investing in yourself to manifest what you want and need from your career.

But at the end of the day, if you have done everything you can and you still don’t find the outcome you are striving for, know that there is a reason for it. Keep an open mind and embrace this as an opportunity to discover something that is even better for you. Even if it isn’t yet clear exactly what that is.

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