There are many elements to career planning but the element I notice that is missing the most is annual skill building. If you would like an upward career trajectory for challenge, income, responsibility, control, fun, or whatever – it can only happen if you collect the necessary skills and experience to be awarded those jobs and promotions. The most certain way to make that happen is to add or advance one new skill per year. It could be learning a new foreign language, learning a new coding language, taking a course in negotiation, or a new technical certification. Today, there are endless ways to learn something valuable to offer potential clients or companies.
Most careers include moves to other companies, industries, and geographic areas. Naturally, the best way to get hired is to have a unique collection of valuable skills to offer potential employers. I’ve observed that workers in their 50s and 60s who lose their job fall into two groups. The first group was complacent, having never added or enhanced their skillsets – so they were reduced to a replaceable commodity that is younger and cheaper. People in this first group are either never hired again, or if they are, it is at a vastly lower pay than their last position. An example of this group would be someone performing a physical task in a warehouse who was automated out of a job. The second group found a way to accumulate highly specialized skills or knowledge that kept them in high demand. They usually find new employment quickly at their same level of compensation, possibly higher. An example of this second group would be someone who was active in bringing new speakers to their career association group, staying on top of changes in their industry, and getting certifications in upcoming methods of efficiency.
To build a career that is improving and growing, it must be nurtured and supported with new skills. The world economy will always slowly change and become more efficient, so you need new skills need to keep pace. If a new process puts your career on a downward spiral of obsolescence, then it is time to re-assess and focus on a career shift to one with an increasing demand.