Technical innovations, the globalization of the marketplace, increased competition and demands from consumers have all contributed to making today's workplace a volatile one. Terms like "change management," "life-long learning," "multitasking," and "cross-functional skill sets" echo the demands now made upon managers, employees, entrepreneurs and job-seekers.
With all of this constant change, how can you, as a member of the mature workforce, possibly keep up? The answer lies in taking the time to proactively plan and manage your own career path.
Gone are the days when we could show up, do a good job and expect to be rewarded for our efforts. Career advancement is no longer guaranteed and neither is job security -- even for star employees. Instead, it's necessary for each of us to consider ourselves as consultants: keep abreast of the marketplace, make certain our skills are current and in demand, and chart our own course.
So take some time to review and renew your own career by asking yourself the following five questions:
1) How valuable is your position to the organization?
Do you affect the bottom line? Are your skills critical to the company's success? If your answer to these questions is "no," it's time to take on additional tasks and responsibilities so that your contribution level increases and you begin to add real value to the overall goals of the organization. Otherwise you're likely to be viewed as expendable ... and we all know what that means.
2) Is your field expanding or contracting?
If your field is contracting, you should consider getting the necessary retraining to refocus your direction. Your job may easily become vulnerable as a result of a decreasing market. Moreover, if you're in a job search and looking for a new position, you might not wish to invest your time and focus on a field that is no longer in demand.
3) Are you being given opportunities for advancement and professional growth?
This is a sign your company wants to invest in you. If you're not being given these opportunities, ask for them. Request more responsibilities, volunteer for projects and look around for problems you can solve. Be proactive about this and let them know you're committed to making a positive difference.
4) Are you receiving the salary and benefits appropriate to your financial goals?
First do your homework and know the pay range for your position. If your company is doing well and you've just completed a major project, you're in a good position to ask for a raise. Before you broach the topic, however, be certain you're able to list the positive contributions you're making and how your efforts consistently add value.
5) Is your job meeting your own needs for meaningful and fulfilling work?
This is critical because it affects your attitude. Your commitment, work ethic, demeanor and personality are at least as important as the skills you bring. If you aren't feeling fulfilled and generally pleased with your position, do something about it. An unhappy employee will appear to be just "putting in time" and that's a giant red flag to any employer. They want someone who's motivated, eager for fresh challenges, and happy to be there.
So spend some time to review and renew your career direction. The more you take charge of your own path, stay abreast of changes in your field, and make the necessary changes to keep your skills relevant, the greater your opportunities will be. Better yet, many times the risks involved in charting your own course will produce multiple rewards. Therefore take chances, ask for what you want, and anticipate success -- your career is worth it!
Mary Eileen Williams is a Nationally Board Certified Career Counselor with a Master's Degree in Career Development and 20 years' experience assisting midlife jobseekers to achieve satisfying careers. Her book, Land the Job You Love: 10 Surefire Strategies for Jobseekers Over 50, is a step-by-step guide that helps you turn your age into an advantage. It's packed with information providing mature applicants with the tools to successfully navigate the modern job market and gain the edge over the competition. Visit her website at Feisty Side of Fifty.com and celebrate your sassy side!
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