In the past, the advice given to young people from parents or grandparents was something like this: “Go to work with a reputable company, one with good benefits. Start at the bottom and work your way to the top. Take advantage of any opportunity along the way that will help you advance in the company, even if you don’t like it. Stay with that company, get a good pension, and retire in forty or fifty years.”
The problem is that in this day and age, even if you wanted to take this approach, it won’t work.
You can sit at the same desk for five years and be working for two or three different companies, as mergers and acquisitions have become the norm. It is likely that in the process of change, at some point in your career, your position will be eliminated. It doesn’t matter how hard you’ve worked, how high you’ve climbed on the leadership ladder, or how successful you have been.
It just happens.
So how do you grow and progress in your career, even when you can’t stay with one company?
We’ve all heard the term, “Jack of all trades, master of none.”
There is a valid argument to be made for being knowledgeable in many areas, but chasing shiny objects in all areas or trying to reach perfection in all areas is equally ineffective. Doing whatever job comes along may be interesting, but it is not the most direct path to a successful career.
And yet, the old days of mastering one thing for one company for one whole career are long gone. Being a master of one trade alone may now be as detrimental to your career as being a jack of all trades.
The most effective approach is to be acquainted with all trades – to have a broad picture understanding of each part of a company or business, technology, and manufacturing in general. Learn from every person you meet – from the board room to the factory floor. Everyone has something to teach you.
But when it comes to what you do personally, you cannot do everything, nor can you just choose one thing and do it for the rest of your career. The key is to first determine your strengths.
As you progress through your career, you may take on different positions with different companies, but if you examine them closely, they should have a common core – your strengths.
Let’s say you are gifted at sales. You may not be able to stay in one place as a sales person for forty or fifty years, but you can carry those strengths with you and simply apply them to different companies, positions, products, and services. Business trends may come and go, but if you know your strengths are in sales, you simply apply that strength to current practices and continue forward.
You can no longer depend on a company for job security, but you can create your own job security by knowing your strengths.
The application may change, but your strengths are yours for life.
To learn more about your strengths and how you can apply them in the today’s workplace, click here.