In an increasingly competitive and demanding job market, our know-how loses its value very quickly. Our employability is never a permanent achievement, far from it. One of the most important challenges of the talents I meet everyday is to get the hindsight to properly identify their key competences according to their current job, and also according to their future employment. The average time for a person to assume his or her position is 4 years. It’s therefore essential, when accepting a new job, to think about what that position will bring to us as a leverage effect for any future positions you may hold.
Our employability declines. This is due to several reasons: most of the time it’s because we did not update our competences according to the market needs or simply because of a lack of responsiveness to the new market conditions. Consequences are many. We are stagnating and missing out on career development opportunities and putting our employment at risk. Sometimes feelings of demotivation and frustration are taking hold, or even resignation for meaningless jobs and tasks.
The next series of Insights are dedicated to those specific challenges which are both part of your self-marketing and your professional positioning, for today and tomorrow. Knowing how to “manage” your key aptitudes and employability, as well as understanding the evolution of the job market, are competences that every talent seeking a real balance and a mastered professional development, should learn.
Previous generations could rely on their education, basic training or degrees, as well as defined competences, ensuring them a solid career path. However, the economic background has changed, such as needs and expectations. Technological change has particularly impacted the way we work. We increasingly have to live with intelligent increasingly powerful machines, which modify our jobs and specifications. In the face of such challenges and outlooks, there is no other solution than anticipation and proactivity. The solution is to constantly reinvent oneself, to revisit one’s competences and sometimes to have the courage to reconsider one’s choices and chosen directions. Conditions ensuring job security are no longer the same. Developing a professional and proactive identity and validating your key competences are part of the new requirements to ensure a stable and mastered career. As for self-marketing, become the entrepreneur of your career and don’t rest on your laurels.
Relying on my background and coaching experience, I’ve gathered several representative cases of talents facing those challenges, in which you may recognize yourself.
- Talent’s lack of monitoring on the evolution of those competences that will be inescapable in their own domain is unfortunately the norm. Even if their company doesn’t already need them or that the adoption of new technologies or standards of quality, etc., is scheduled for much later, lack of anticipation can be an obstacle to career development.
- Loyalty as well as longevity in a company is not a problem in itself, always provided that talents make sure to evolve and develop new competences or to train themselves at least every 4 years. This becomes all the more important when the talent turns to become a “pure product” of the company he or she works for. In this case, it is essential to negotiate a counterpart in order to ensure him/herself, whether professional growth in the company or the guarantee of the acquisition of transferable competences for other companies or industries.
- Managing priorities and proactivity. When I ask my interlocutors why they did not undertake training or why they did not develop one skill or another, answers vary. ‘My employer didn’t propose it, I have too much work, we are understaffed, it’s not the company policy, I don’t have the money to afford training or coaching, it’s hard to reconcile work and family life, I didn’t dare to ask, etc.’ To those arguments, I would answer that the company has its objectives and priorities, imposed by market needs. An employee, regardless of the person’s hierarchical position, must learn to set his or her own objectives and priorities according to this same market, and according to his or her motivations, aspirations and values. Again, this implies foresight and anticipation, and to take the plunge!
- Coaching or mentoring. Performance is the guiding principle of the current market. If you think you can escape being assessed during your career, you are mistaken. If you don’t decide to demonstrate and prove your competences or your potential, nobody will do it for you. This is valid for example, for persons that acquired a professional experience in their company without the formal training or validation, or persons that developed a specific know-how, practices, methodology, standards or procedures without knowing how to turn it in career advantages and to market it. The same applies for individuals with an academic background facing the challenge to transfer competences in the job market, etc. It’s the role of coaching and mentoring to expertly accompany talents in this effort, in order to build a coherent profile demonstrating your mastery and potential, and target eventual trainings or skills validations to undertake, in accordance with your current and future key competences. Find someone that will help you to think out of the box!
- Fear and comfort zone. Often candidates don’t have the reflex to ask for help or advice. Believing that we can make it on our own, with the growing complexity of the market and its constantly increasing level of requirements, is unfortunately an illusion. The only way to overcome the challenges we are all facing is to communicate, to exchange with people, to find experts in your domain, mentors or colleagues, even competitors. Take advantage of professional networks like LinkedIn to learn from others, to benchmark yourself, to find inspiration, etc. Learn to act and not react. Take and ask for advice on continuous training or skills assessments. You will realise that those processes don’t take as much time as you thought. Submit your project to your employer, negotiate with him a sponsoring or a reorganisation of your work-time.
Then ask yourself these questions: Will what I am doing today be valid tomorrow? Where and how will my current role position me in the future? Will my job still exist tomorrow? Nowadays, the market needs talents that have potential to face tomorrow’s challenges. Potential is the capacity to adapt and meet the needs of the future. In this process, acquired experience only proves that you were able to achieve goals in the past, but not necessarily that you could tackle the ones ahead. Career development is decreasingly guaranteed by your experience, your seniority, your hierarchical position or your sphere of influence but by your capacity to anticipate your competences becoming obsolete.