up professional development to combat economy woes
Nimish Thakkar, Career Coach
I coached Nick Smith, a fascinating client, in fact, one of the most
intelligent professionals I have ever met. Yet, despite the abundance
of natural talent, Nick was unemployed for a very long time. After a
series of setbacks, he knew something was wrong but couldn’t debunk
the “mystery cause” that was foiling his career goals repeatedly.
During one of our coaching sessions, we finally hit the life-changing
eureka moment, not just for Smith, but for the many who are guilty of
the same professional gaffe: knowledge stagnation. In his career
spanning over two decades, Nick had paid very little attention to his
professional skills and expertise. He was so focused on the work he
was doing, he rarely paid attention to the changes that were shaking
the very foundations of his chosen profession. This bitter truth came
to his attention much after his long-time employer closed operations.
Nick decided to take charge and embarked on an ambitious upgrade
strategy. Not only did he acquire new skills (including leadership
skills), he also learnt new software and technologies that were
important to his industry. He is now gainfully employed as a CFO.
a market research analyst with a promising biotech company. Despite
making stellar contributions, he was being outpaced when it came to
promotions and appraisals. What was missing? In the few years he had
been with the company, he had not taken adequate measures to advance
professionally. The tools and techniques he had acquired were quickly
On realizing this, Jerry teamed with his superiors to develop an
on-the-job training strategy that included mentorship, one-on-one
collaboration with superiors, and an executive MBA program. Within a
very short time, he found a six-figure position at a
globally-recognized biotech company.
Envision the future -- think growth,
Avid business readers may be aware of the case of the word processor
giant. The company had invested billions of dollars to invent and
manufacture its word processing product, but made the fatal mistake of
not envisioning the impact of personal computers. Much to the
manufacturer’s disappointment, the product was rendered obsolete when
PCs became accessible to common consumers.
In my experience, an average executive works with the same employer
for at least four years. The timeframe, when combined with a
fast-paced work environment, is sufficient to cause even the savviest
executive to slow down on knowledge acquisition.
It is very important that you take charge of your career, not your
employer. Set aside a professional development budget and ask
yourself: “Where is my profession headed? What competencies will be in
demand a few years from now? What position do I want to be in a few
years from now? What proficiencies would that position require? How
can I give more value to my present and future employers?”
These and similar questions will help you identify the gap between
where you are and where you need to be. Create a comprehensive skills
acquisition plan (short- and long-term) to close this gap.
Professional advancement need not be restricted to just training
programs or a graduate degree. There are many avenues to steer
professional growth. Books, e-groups, newsletters, professional
associations, conferences, seminars, webinars, networking events,
literature -- development opportunities exist in abundance.
In this Information Age, knowledge becomes outdated faster than
fashion. Thinking ahead is the ideal way to build a successful career,
and the best hedge against uncertainty.
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Nimish Thakkar is a sought-after certified
career management coach. He has helped thousands of clients, including
professionals at Fortune 500 companies, through cutting-edge career
management tools. Thakkar has authored hundreds of articles and is
regularly invited to speak on a wide range of career-related issues.
Nimish edits and manages a
free career information site,
SaiCareers.com, and is the CEO of a
professional resume writing service,