Whether you have ever voluntarily (or involuntarily) left a job, everyone should be prepared for this life transition that will most likely occur more frequently in the future. Ignoring the realities of today’s job market only makes the eventual change more disruptive. While the reasons for change may be numerous, how you respond is crucial to determining whether you successfully navigate and chart a new course or let the tide carry you into the unknown.
Author and change expert William Bridges masterfully outlined the changing currents of the employment marketplace years ago in his book “JobShift,” which envisioned a world without jobs but plenty of work to be done. Our concept of jobs is anchored in the industrial revolution where roles were predictable, consistent and easily organized into specific tasks such as the traditional factory worker. Today, the lines are being blurred and companies have to compete in a continuously changing market.
Instead of anchoring yourself to the idea of “job security,” I’d like to share an outline of concepts, similar to buoys used by ships to follow a route, to help you navigate the treacherous and choppy waters of career change. Based on Bridges’ work in a follow-up book, “Creating You & Co.,” there are four key steps starting with focusing on your unique skills and strengths. Through self-discovery, you can identify your unique abilities that may be valuable to others and give you fulfillment.
The second step is to look for opportunities to apply your skills and strengths. This means going beyond the traditional job search to seek out environments that would benefit from your unique abilities. Companies are already moving away from jobs as they outsource and use consultants and others to do work previously done by employees.
The third step is to create a compelling value proposition for those opportunities to demonstrate how your skills and strengths would be the best way to get the work done. Even within companies, it’s beneficial to identify areas you can add value, even if it’s outside of your usual role.
After you have found a match between your skills and the best place to utilize those skills, you’re not done — the fourth step is to identify other ways to develop and improve your skills. Continuous improvement is the only way to maintain your relevancy in the changing tides of the marketplace.
I highly recommend Bridges’ “Creating You & Co.” as a practical resource for becoming the captain of your career where he expands on these steps along with helpful exercises to apply the ideas to your own life.