11 Jun Advancing Your Career: Making The Most of the Economic Downturn
You might think tough economic times mean that any plans for advancing your career are on hold. In fact, the current economic climate provides an ideal opportunity for you to take advantage of the situation. Here are some ideas to help you advance your career:
Gain new skills
We have all heard the countless stories about dwindling numbers of workers and the increased workloads within organisations. If you find yourself in this situation, rather than seeing it as an overwhelming threat, try looking at the opportunities the situation presents. Taking on extra duties could enable you to develop new skills which will make you more marketable or provide leverage to ask for a pay rise and higher status.
Grasp any opportunities that arise to job shadow or receive on-the-job training and mentoring from other staff members. Be on the lookout for secondment opportunities which can be a fantastic way to try out other roles within your organisation for a set period whilst someone is on extended leave. Keep track of your new skills, knowledge and experience adding them to your CV in your skills summary section as well as in your position description where appropriate.
Make yourself indispensable
As you take on more responsibility and perform more tasks you become an indispensable member of the team who becomes difficult to replace. Your most valuable assets will be your increasingly diverse work skills, flexibility, effectiveness and professionalism.
Work hard at being a team player who gets things done as harmoniously as possible and you’re bound to be identified as the indispensable team member the organisation cannot do without. It’s also likely that once the economic tide turns and growth returns, it will be you who will be looked upon favourably to take on a new, higher paying role.
As training providers scramble to fill seats on courses due to cuts in training budgets, you’re more likely to be able to negotiate a discounted course fee or obtain multiple qualifications or accreditations for the price of one. Identify the training you feel will help you advance your career and research the courses on offer comparing them by cost, reputation and schedule.
Once you have chosen your preferred training provider, contact them to see if they can offer any discounts or other incentives. Many training providers have early bird or last minute discounts which can see you save hundreds or even thousands depending on the type of training. Make sure you understand the qualification you will receive, the course content as well as the delivery and assessment modes.
Use time wisely
If your employer has reduced your working hours in an effort to cut costs, think about how you can most effectively use the time you have. Perhaps you can pursue that freelance work you’ve always wished you could try your hand at or maybe you can undertake some training or volunteer work to gain new skills and knowledge.
If it’s more cash from a more stable income you need, look at part time or casual work opportunities to supplement your existing income. It may also be worth exploring moving into a new role altogether to achieve your goals.
Don’t forget to maintain your networks by keeping active in industry committees, attending events such as conferences, workshops and seminars. Utilise social media by joining and becoming an active contributor to relevant online professional communities such as groups on LinkedIn.
Even though you might not have plans to move into another role right now, once the economic climate shifts and growth is stimulated there will be opportunities which you are likely to learn about through your established networks.
Career development planning
If you’re lucky enough to work for an organisation with a good staff career development programme, it’s likely you already have a career development plan. A career development plan is a vital element of your professional development providing a road map for you to achieve your career goals. Most organisational career development programmes are reviewed on a yearly basis although some organisations might encourage you to revisit your plan on a quarterly or half-yearly basis.
Whatever the schedule, make sure you provide as much input as possible to ensure you get the most out of your career development programme. Identify training, mentoring and other learning opportunities available and have them included in your plan. Find out the level of funding allocated to your professional development and use it wisely.
For those who don’t have access to a workplace career development programme, create your own plan by identifying your career goals, opportunities, skills/knowledge gaps and available training. Once you have this information, draw up your career development plan including specific tasks and realistic timeframes. Review your plan regularly, at least every 3-6 months, revising as necessary. If you need help creating your career development plan, consult a professional Career Counsellor or Career Development Practitioner.
Finally, don’t let the current economic slow-down stall your career. Instead, use it to your advantage by seeking out the opportunity in every adversity. For more tips and advice head to the Guardian Careers website where I join other career experts for the Taking your career to the next level Live Q&A event.