| Change in the workplace has never been more rapid. There is no 'long term' in today's working environment - the concept is dead. A job for life and gold watch retirement are quaint traditions of a bygone era. It is predicted that we will no longer have careers but a series of jobs.
Open-ended contracts are becoming less common - today's way of working is more often in bite-sized projects, which have a definite start and end. In the near future, half the workforce of the developed world will be working outside an organisation. Traditional organisations now employ 55% of the workforce on a full-time basis. The rest are temporary, part-time, or casual.
Only the adaptable will survive. You must react to that change by being flexible and open to learning new skills. In this shifting world of work, your current job can be considered as one route of gathering skills and knowledge in preparation for the next one.
The best advice when looking for work is to be active, energetic and tenacious. Don't be put off by initial rejections. Practice makes perfect where writing effective resumes and interview techniques are concerned. You will soon find out what works when trying to impress a prospective employer. And from your own point of view, the more you look and become aware of what's on offer, the better you will be to determine exactly the type of job that will suit you.
Globalisation has made work a 24 hour business. Increasingly, companies are offering employees more flexible working hours to better fit their lifestyle. Job sharing, part-time work, flexible hours, parental leave and working from home are commonplace in many large organisations. Consider what working hours would best suit your lifestyle. Usually evenings, night and weekend shifts attract a higher rate of pay. But you have to be prepared to be flexible and available when demand is high.
Continuing adult education, generated by the Internet may well become the greatest economic growth opportunity of the future. The concept of lifetime education is most appealing to those who are already highly educated, who are aware that they must keep abreast of the latest trends and technologies. Companies are already finding it difficult to get skilled staff in particular fields. It makes sense to take advantage of training courses on offer because skills need to be constantly updated. The more skills and qualifications you have, the more use you will be to an employer. Qualifications will not only make it easier to find work but you will be better paid too.
Ultimately, it is up to you to take responsibility for your own training. There are government and locally run schemes available, as well as training through recruitment companies. Enroll for training programmes on your own too. In order to keep yourself on the cutting edge of workplace skills that can be put to immediate use, you need to regularly attend upgrading and updating training. For certain vocations, you need certification, which needs to be periodically re-certified. Ensure you attend these certifications and re-certifications so that there is no lapse in what you are permitted to do. In defining your career goals, never overlook targets which include training.
The constant development of new technology means that the workplace can be virtually anywhere you happen to be. This creates opportunities for flexible working way beyond anything we could have imagined a decade ago. It is now possible to communicate effectively with staff wherever they are based. WAP phones, laptop computers, emails, modems and faxes enable us to take our office with us whether we are at home, in the car, or on a train.
Don't be frightened of this new technology. Embrace it for the benefits it can offer you and investigate how it can help you work smarter and more efficiently. Remember as technology is constantly changing and being updated, it is not just new to you but to everyone else too. If you keep an open mind you will probably be surprised how user-friendly many of these gadgets can be and after a short time wonder how you ever managed without them.
The increase in home working and mobile offices mean that you may no longer have a designated workstation. You have to be prepared to 'hot desk' and adapt to the situation.
Like fashion, the right style for work constantly changes and will depend very much on the type of industry in which you are working. Following on from 'casual Fridays' the tendency has been to dress down. Some large firms have told their staff that they no longer need business suits and smart casual is the way forward.
This can be tricky and quite confusing. Naturally, you want to fit in, especially if you are new, there are two ways in which to do so. When you go for an interview, take note of what your prospective colleagues are wearing. It should be easy to gauge if you get the opportunity to see the people with whom you will be working with. If you are not sure, then ask if they have a dress code. It will give a positive signal of your willingness to fit in and be part of the team.
Managing your own career
Kelly Services' research shows that the workforce has become used to taking responsibility for career decisions and does not crave the job security of earlier times. Employees were asked if they were to receive the offer of a very attractive job, with the security of a contract, how long would they would they sign up for. Just over a quarter of respondents would sign up until retirement, but they were mainly aged 45 and over. The majority of under 35s, however, would only commit to one or two years, reflecting a desire to remain flexible in case a better offer comes along.
Career management and development must become a responsibility. Individuals must devote time to strategically planning their career. Career coaches can be useful personal guides in crafting effective career development activities. In the 21st century, career management and career development can no longer be left to chance if you are to remain relevant in the workplace of tomorrow. Make career management a part of your lifestyle just like wealth and health management. Devote time periodically to review your career progress and career adjustment needed. Career wellness is increasingly becoming as important as health and financial wellness for a happy life!
When taking responsibility for your own career there are other areas like pensions, healthcare, career development, personal development and training which cannot be ignored. Financial planning is essential if you are not eligible for a company pension scheme. As you increasingly take responsibility for your career, career management and networking must become an integral part of your lifestyle. Also you may wish to consider healthcare and sickness insurance.
Balance of Work and Home
Juggling the demands of work and home are not easy, especially in today's busy and competitive climate. According to studies we work two or three hours longer each week than we did 10 years ago. Most people would agree that we spend far longer at work than we want to. Greater materialistic expectations and job insecurity contribute to the increase in working hours.
However, good employers realise that staff are more productive when they are happy at home. Flexibility is a two-way street - if you help out when the pressure is on, your boss will probably reciprocate when you need extra time off for domestic crises.
You really need to step back and consider what you want from your career, what your expectations are and how much you are prepared to commit. At one stage in your life your career may be all-important and you will want to pledge a 110% effort to climb the promotion ladder. There may be other periods when other aspects of your life take precedence. Then you can take advantage of the increasing flexibility. The choice is yours. Make a decision and go for it!
The article is extracted from a publication by Kelly Services' called "Best Foot Forward". It is a 52 page guide for job seekers on job search tips. To obtain your very own copy of "Best Foot Forward", please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kelly Services is a Fortune 500 company offering human resources solutions that include temporary services, staff leasing, outsourcing, vendor on-site and full time placement. With more than 2500 company owned and operated offices in 26 countries, Kelly provides nearly 800,000 employees annually.