Navigating a career is never easy. There will be obstacles and disappointments. There will be joys and celebrations. At times, even new opportunities come to you from “out of the blue.” It is when those obstacles, disappointment, and “out of the blue” situations happen is when the true grit of a leader surfaces. But “true grit” doesn’t just show up, it takes anticipation and preparation. The key to being prepared for a quick and unexpected career transitions is to stay career relevant.
What is involved in staying career relevant?
- Not only knowing what you are good at but also to understand where you need to improve or develop. Too often we just see the good work we do; we don’t spend enough time reflecting on where we need to improve. Preparation comes from being brutally honest. Don’t just rely on your relevancy inventory. You should also look to trusted workmates, bosses, and mentors to complete this relevancy inventory. When you ask these people for input, tell them you are not afraid and would prefer it if this information be prickly; that you honestly want to improve and are looking for them to help you. Take notes and do not get defensive.
- After these interviews, review your notes and make a list of those areas of improvement or growth. Add to this your personal relevancy inventory. This list is your relevancy-gap analysis.
- From this relevancy-gap analysis develop a plan for each item to improve, learn, or stretch your skill set. Include the development resource, a timeline, and set completion milestone for each gap.
Being a life-long learner is the most important criteria for maintaining career relevancy. If you find yourself becoming satisfied, complacent, or on cruise control, it is time for a relevancy inventory. A key to lifetime career relevancy and more importantly career satisfaction is to learn, grow, and stretch every day.