In a competitive job market, workers looking for new opportunities can find it daunting to improve their prospects or position themselves for a career change. Even after just a year or two at your current job, you may find that employers are looking for new skills – some of which didn’t exist a few years ago. The challenge of career transformation can be massive, but we can all learn from the realm of business, where companies must constantly deal with the need to adapt or fail in a competitive scene.
Taking stock of current operations
Every business has its own way of doing things. Small businesses may retain the same leadership and employees; bigger companies tend to have entrenched rules and policies defining what to do and how to proceed in any given scenario. As people grow older, our mental operations become similarly defined and seasoned with experience; we trust that what’s taken us this far will continue to work in the future.
The problem is that this causation model is flawed. Circumstances change, and sometimes the way you’ve always operated isn’t what will bring success in the future. Businesses learn this through investing in data analysis; tools like asset management software reveal whether major investments, such as a vehicle fleet, are being properly utilized for productivity. As an individual, you can become aware of your underlying assumptions by taking stock; write a journal, reflect on how you got through different stages of your career, take note of any transformations which helped you survive, and what might not be as helpful in the current environment.
Deliberately choosing a model
A company that tries to adapt and survive with changing times will make use of a model for decision-making. Some will choose innovation – trusting that internal competencies in product design or engineering will enable them to thrive. Others pursue acquisition; rather than developing expertise in an emerging field, they prefer to buy and integrate promising external projects.
Every person can similarly choose to adapt in different ways. Self-investment can help you learn new skills or pursue further education to expand your capabilities. Networking allows you to accomplish tasks without becoming an expert by collaborating with others. These are two examples of how different approaches can achieve the same goals, but may succeed or fail depending on the situation. Having a niche skill can make you more valuable to an employer or secure qualification for a higher position, but few people can really master a lot of new skills; being able to collaborate with a diverse team often brings greater sustained success.
Maintaining a long-term approach
When you think of businesses that have managed to adapt successfully in the modern era, the likes of Amazon or Apple may come to mind. Apple emerged as a leader in the personal computing frontier during the 80s and 90s, before innovation led the company to lucrative growth in music, handheld devices and mobile phones. Amazon built itself into an ecommerce giant, but managed to leverage its AWS tools to become a leader in cloud computing.
The key takeaway is that none of these businesses transformed overnight. The recognition of opportunity or a need for change led to slow developments in the right direction over the years. Adopt a long-term mindset; knowing that change is necessary could be daunting, but if you build patiently towards your goals, you will end up achieving positive, significant change.
Career transformation isn’t done blind; find out which basic assumptions need to be revised, how to go about addressing the skill gaps, and work slowly and steadily to get there.