How many jobs have you had? How many careers? If you’re like me, you may have had eight to ten jobs and/or three to four careers in your lifetime. Yet, as I progressed early in my career and deliberately moved from one job to another after approximately 3-4 years, I remember my father asking me, “Why can’t you keep a job?”
I also remember reeling in shock and annoyance because, for the most part, all of my jobs and career changes were planned and deliberate. I knew that I wanted to try different experiences and build my repertoire of skills. What surprised me was that my father labeled my moves from one job to another as “job hopping,” and he felt it would be detrimental to my career. Then, just the other day, a gentleman put the same question to me, “Why did you move around so much in your career?”
I firmly believe that in today’s world there’s no such thing as a guaranteed job. Nor do I believe that careers are simply a linear progression up a career ladder.
This means that if individuals don’t continue building their skills and experience in every way they can, they’ll face the risk of being caught with outdated skills and expertise in the next wave of downsizing and rightsizing. And it’s no fun being out of work for an entire year and facing the challenge of looking for new work while trying to update your skills!.
My advice is to deliberately consider job mobility as one of the many strategies in your career planning process. How do you do this? The following tips might help you along the way.
Follow External Leaders
We all have individuals we admire in our industry. Get as much information as you can regard their career paths and how they led to success. Ask to meet these individuals and inquire about the various positions they’ve held. Inquire as to why they sought out their various jobs and what skills they learned to bring them to their current role. Ask for guidance and advice that can help set your own career course.
Assess Internal Career Paths
Look around in your current organization. Follow your own leaders through their career paths. Did their career paths include tenure in marketing, finance, human resources, or another operational department? Did their paths include field work and/or moves to another geographic area? How have their paths impacted their careers? What skills did they learn and what can you learn from their experiences to help you?
Investigate Available Career Paths
Check within your current organization and identify the various career paths available to you. What skills and experience would you gain if you moved from one department to another within your company? Meet with various managers and leaders and inquire about corporate goals and where you might fit in the future. Keep your eye on opportunities to contribute to special projects that might lead to a new job within your company.
Investigate Career Enhancement
Most of us recognize a particular skill that we love to engage in and develop. Look toward the future and assess how a particular skill might lead to a new and completely different career direction. For instance, the occupations of workplace health and safety, lean facilitators, or professional project managers didn’t even exist not too long ago. I’m sure that new occupations will continue to emerge and develop in the future. Pay attention, get in on the ground floor, and obtain early training and certification for growing fields that interest you.
Article is adapted from the Winnipeg Free Press article originally authored by Barbara J. Bowes.
Barbara J. Bowes is President of Career Partners International – Winnipeg and is a leading and most respected authority on human Resources and executive search. She is a Certified Human Resource Management Professional (CHRP – Fellow), a Certified Management Consultant, (CMC), a Certified Coach Practitioner and holds a Master of Administration in Education. Barbara is also certified in a number of human resource and proprietary operational strategies.