10 Strategies to Future-Proof Yourself as a Career Professional
By Maureen McCann.
Career professionals are career advocates. We believe in the power of career development. We educate clients about what’s happening in the labour market. But what about our own professional development? We are often so busy helping others, who among us is making our own career development a priority? How can we future-proof our own careers in a constantly changing world of work?
Here are a few ways I am working to future-proof my career and some suggestions on how you might do the same.
- Volunteer and engage with career professionals. My two main sources of career community are my professional associations with Career Professionals of Canada and the Canadian Council of Career Development (3CD), where I volunteer on the Canada Career Month project. Staying connected with what’s happening in our industry gives me confidence in the work I do. In addition to connecting me with leaders in our field, both of these organizations offer me a sense of community and a safe place to share ideas about the future of career development.
- Attend and present at career conferences. Is your provincial association hosting a conference this year? Have you considered attending our national conference, Cannexus, in January 2020? Conferences are not only places to learn best practices but also to meet, connect, and share on an ongoing basis with people in our profession.
- Write what you know. We ask our clients to put themselves out there regularly – why not take our own advice? There are so many wonderful ways to share your ideas with our community; consider writing for CareerWise, Careering magazine, The Canadian Journal of Career Development, or Career Professionals of Canada. Get your thoughts on paper and share them with our career community. It’s a great way to demonstrate thought leadership and raise your profile as a trusted source of information about career development.
- Microlearning. Upskilling. Reskilling. The Canadian Standards & Guidelines for Career Development Practitioners state that as career professionals, we must be committed to lifelong learning. Think about the last time you took a webinar, a certificate program, or a workshop where you were the learner (not the teacher). Staying attuned to the needs of the ever-changing job market is one way to ensure you’re able to anticipate and adapt to the future of work. In the comment section below, please share your favourite resources for learning and professional development.
- Collaborate. We are a growing profession. Look to others in our industry for opportunities to collaborate. This year, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and working with some of these talented professionals. Who in your network is doing “cool” projects where you’d like to get involved? Reach out to them.
I had the pleasure of meeting Personal Branding & Career Search Advisor Ana Lokotkova in person after she introduced herself to me on LinkedIn over a year ago. Less than two weeks after we met, she and I were collaborating on video content creation for LinkedIn.
- Expand your network and un-silo yourself. If you’re a career professional who works with other career professionals, consider following the work of people outside your immediate community. Academics, non-profits, government, community service providers, entrepreneurs, and independent practitioners are just a few of the varying types of career professionals that exist across Canada (and the world). Don’t isolate yourself into being strictly an academic, or an entrepreneur, or a community service provider. We have plenty to learn from each other.
Reach out to human resources professionals and recruiters; they are, after all, that the people who will hire our clients. Get to know them. You might also take a look at your client list. Some of my clients include politicians, lobbyists, executives and career changers who are in the trenches. Look for opportunities to learn from your clients. What have they taught you about the job search? How can you incorporate new lessons into your practice?
- Go international. Keep an eye on best practices happening south of the border. You might attend a conference like those put on by Career Thought Leaders or read the blog posts of an organization like JobScan.
- Practice gratitude. Appreciate where you are in your career, the network you have, the job you have, and the clients you support. This is beneficial for two reasons. One, practicing gratitude often makes you self-aware. With self-awareness comes an appreciation and understanding of skills you possess and value you have to offer the world of work. Second, staying connected to your skills and value helps you to stay focused on the positive. A positive mindset is beneficial to you as you navigate the ebbs and flows of your own career.
- Consider new audiences. Connect what you know (career development) to new audiences. My work is focused on business leaders and executives, but as a mom, I was able to write a post about my experience helping my daughter build her first résumé, then another about the people she needs to meet before graduation. As a military spouse, I wrote about my experience helping military members transition to civilian careers. Look for ways to extend career development into things you’re already doing. Why not share your expertise and become a thought leader in a new area, while simultaneously sharing your story so that others may learn from it?
- Stay current. You will find plenty of resources online about the future of work and the use of social media in career development. Think of these resources as your guide to the future of work in our profession. Academic journals, books, research papers, white papers and labour market information are just a few other resources to consider. In the comment section below, add your favourite career resources.
Let’s Lead by Example
At the end of Cannexus19, Sareena Hopkins shared with us that “Career development has always been a powerful lever for building future success, but in today’s emergent reality, it is truly a superpower.”
As career professionals, we can celebrate our success by taking pride in the fact that Canada is enjoying its lowest rate of unemployment in 43 years. Yes, we helped do that. Go ahead. Take the credit. You’ve earned it. We add incredible value to the Canadian economy as we help the country find meaningful employment.
With the employment of the nation tied to the work we do, we must be ready to adapt to the changes heading our way. We must continue to prove our resiliency and demonstrate the value we have to offer. We must lead by example and not rest on what we currently know about career development. The world of work is changing and so must we.
Maureen McCann is a fierce advocate of career development, committed to preparing Canadians for the future of work. Founder of Promotion Career Solutions, she is one of Canada’s top executive résumé writers with 15-plus years’ experience teaching, mentoring, and facilitating career development. She is a senior board advisor to Career Professionals of Canada and an active member of both the Canadian Council for Career Development Outreach & Advocacy committee and the Canadian Career Development Foundation’s National Stakeholder Committee.
Photo by Freepik