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Create the Future You Want

June 21, 2000
Related Topics: Your HR Career, Featured Article
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Mergers, acquisitions, outsourcing, streamlining, restructuring -- even in a strong economy, your career success is uncertain. That is, unless you're in control. You need to be in the driver's seat of your career. So how can you take control and create the future you want?

'Employability' is the ultimate job security. This means treating your career as if it's your own small business. You, as the vendor, must maintain marketable products, which are your skills, and continuously demonstrate your value to your employer, the customer. Also, as a human resources professional, you need to help all of the employees in your organization to develop this mindset.

So what can you do to ensure your employability? Here are six questions that you should ask yourself to ensure future career success.

YOUR CONTRIBUTION: Do you know what you contribute? This is the most important career management strategy of all-maintaining high-performance standards and consistently creating positive results. Solving problems, looking for more efficient ways of doing things, maintaining high levels of productivity and quality establishes a reputation of effectiveness and reliability. Having set goals and objectives will enable you to measure your contribution.

YOUR VALUE: If your job was open, would you get it? Know your value, monitor your accomplishments and record them. Quantify and qualify your contributions -- both on the job and in your volunteer/civic activities. It is essential to continue to increase your skill-set and ensure that you undertake regular development activities. In order to determine your market value, you should know salary ranges in your organization, industry, region and function.

YOUR OPPORTUNITIES: What would you do if your job disappeared tomorrow? Understanding your industry s trends and the latest developments in your technical/functional discipline will help you position yourself for future opportunities within your department, your organization and/or your industry.

Join industry groups and professional organizations, read business and trade journals/publications, attend conferences, develop a network, select and develop a strong working relationship with senior managers. These activities create the right environment to uncover opportunities and gather information about the future of your industry and the viability of your job function.

YOUR SKILLS: Are you learning? By constantly anticipating your organization s future needs and by matching the development of your skills to those needs, you will solidify your value to the organization today and tomorrow. Increase your skill base by taking advantage of learning opportunities such as asking to be assigned new projects that will enable you to develop new competencies or undertaking part-time courses.

MARKETING YOURSELF: Do the key players in your organization know who you are and what you contribute? By focusing on creating results, keeping track of and articulating your accomplishments, growing your skill base and knowing your industry, you will, as a by-product of these endeavors, create professional visibility for yourself. This is a key strategy for successful career management.

PLANNING: Do you know where you are going and how to get there? Having a career plan will give you greater control over your future. Most importantly, it enables you to position yourself to recognize and capitalize on the myriad of opportunities that the changing world of work offers to those who choose to control their own destiny.

Companies can no longer guarantee your job security. However, you can affect your employability, which is the key to a successful career. Career planning and management is an effective strategy to prepare for the uncertainties of today's world of work. Remember that the overall aim of career management is to put you in control of your own career and, ultimately, your future.

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