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The Brexit/political impasse and more recently the impact of the coronavirus has been very stressful for many people

With redundancies now likely to be on the horizon, and many companies currently having recruitment freezes, it can feel very challenging indeed to get a job/paid work.

Even in these challenging market conditions, a sense of moving forward and progressing is vital.

So how can you take steps today to future-proof your career for the longer term?

This guest blog shares some practical tips and further reading to inspire and help you.

V.U.C.A. world
The current world is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous, or V.U.C.A. This is the new ‘normal’.

Focus on how you can help senior management and businesses with the challenges they face, for example business agility and transformation, creating a competitive advantage, original communication etc.

The competencies of control, curiosity, commitment, confidence and concern are important to be adaptable in your career.

5 career adaptability competencies

  • Control – being proactive, decisive & taking responsibility for your career;
  • Curiosity – broadening your horizons by seeking options, possibilities and knowledge;
  • Commitment – passionately pursuing & taking action to move to the career horizon of your choosing;
  • Confidence – belief in yourself & that you can achieve your goal;
  • Concern – having a positive & philosophical attitude to mistakes or rejection.

How would you rate yourself on these competencies?

Here are some tips to future-proof your career.

Build your career adaptability competencies: If you think of the above career adaptability competencies as ‘muscles’, how can you exercise them? What S.M.A.R.T. goals can you set yourself and what CPD can you undertake to build these ‘muscles’? This will put you in good stead now and in the future.

Understand your transferable skills: Skills you possess are useful in many different contexts outside of your current sector. Investigate new work areas where the skills that you already possess are valued.

Look at trends: Keeping an eye on changing trends is very important at all times, and especially when things are changing fast, which they are at the moment. In any shrinking market, there will always be areas that are growing. What specialisms are growing, for example, cyber crime and data analytics? Where are there skill shortages?

Update your skills: There are lots of free on-line courses, called Moocs shared by universities all over the world. Take advantage of these to learn new skills and develop your knowledge. For example critical thinking is a key skill of the future. Change management and commercial awareness are also good areas to develop. What actions could you take to refresh and develop these specific skills?

Build your career capital: With more competition, you need to have a higher level of qualification to succeed, and add value. Consider new accreditation and building a specialism. Investment now can create more opportunities in future. Explore thought leadership and initiate key note/panel opportunities.

Widen your options: It is wise in uncertain times to develop a portfolio career. Rather than having all your career ‘eggs in one basket’, and just have one source of earning money, explore new/different options, and develop multiple strands to future-proof your career. This is called a portfolio career – it is ideal for uncertain times. You develop different work ‘strands’ so you can pivot as markets change and you change. As an analogy, as with ingredients and cooking a recipe, the more ‘ingredients’ you have of skills, knowledge and experience, the more you can create opportunities for yourself.

Become tech savvy: New tech tools can be daunting at first, but learning them satisfying. Being tech savvy is important so that you hit the ground running in work. If there are two candidates of comparable skill and experience, having superior digital acuity will go in your favour.

Broaden your network: In the digital age, it is becoming more important to have a large diverse network. Many networks are providing free Zoom sessions during lockdown – take advantage of this and attend some networks you wouldn’t normally consider to broaden your network. Join some new LinkedIn groups, and connect with the members.

Free resources: Take advantage of any free resources from your professional body. There may be webinars, case studies and other resources you can access on their website.

Do a skill swap: A skill swap costs nothing, and enables you to learn a new skill, for example Excel spreadsheets, social media, cashflow planning etc. When you’re worried about the future, skill swaps are a brilliant way to skill-up.

Consider retraining: Retraining into a work area where there are skills shortages is worth exploring to improve your security and prospects for the longer term.

Build your resilience: Some people are naturally resilient, but it is a skill that can be learnt. Persistence and not giving up are very important. Determination will take you a long way. In fact, according to Charles Handy, a pioneer in modern ways of working, in his book ‘The New Alchemists’, determination is THE no 1 factor for success. Don’t give up!

It can feel like very challenging times at the moment. Remember you are not alone. Keep going.

Rachel Brushfield Rachel Brushfield is The Talent Liberator at Energise – The Talent Liberation Company, founded in 1997. She is a career strategist, coach and published author, with a career heritage in marketing and brand strategy and communications who helps her clients enjoy uplifting breakthroughs at major career crossroads. Rachel’s career coaching specialisms are helping women professionals and executives to gain more career fulfilment and comfortably and competently market themselves, and creating, editing and marketing portfolio careers for a future proof and sustainable career. Rachel co-runs the network PWHub with CPD style quarterly events for senior employed women in Oxfordshire.

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