Keeping yourself current and fresh with what is happening in your field of work is absolutely essential – even if you’re not looking for a job right now!
For some, it’s a vital part of their job role to have their finger on the pulse, be aware of the latest trends and industry insights, and keep in regular touch with their growing networks. They wouldn’t be able to do their job or be successful without it.
Yet I very often come across professionals who recognise their knowledge may be getting stale, or they don’t feel as current as they could be, but just don’t create the time needed to do something about it. When the pace of work is frantic, there can sometimes be an over reliance on existing knowledge, that you already know what is going on out there. It would be very easy to lull yourself into a false sense of security about your level of expertise – that is, until it’s truly tested.
When you need to up your game at work, or start looking for a new opportunity, this is when you suddenly realise that the market has changed without you even noticing. Recruiters want different things, expectations have shifted apace, and a gnawing uncertainty can impact negatively on your confidence.
So, how do you keep yourself current and ‘industry-aware’?
- Have some questions that you’d like to find out answers to, and use this as a basis to structure your research and wider reading. Otherwise it can feel quite aimless and overwhelming. It might be linked to some work you’re doing right now, or maybe a project that you’d love to be doing but need to spend more time on. For example:
- What has caught your attention in the press recently?
- What are the main challenges facing the industry/sector right now?
- What are your competitors doing that’s getting attention?
- What skill-sets and training is available right now?
- What is the industry/colleagues really excited about?
- Who or what do you admire in the industry?
- Read the relevant trade press or journals. Subscribe to receive quick, easy updates via email.
- Follow companies on twitter, facebook or LinkedIn. Notice what they are proud of, examples of new business, awards, or developments.
- Talk to people. If networks within your industry are essential, who do you know? How do you keep yourself connected to relevant and influential individuals within the sector?
- Keep your CV current. When did you last update your CV? Does it need an overhaul? Even if you’re not looking for a job right now, investing some time in a review and update can help save time when you do need it. It can also serve as a helpful reminder of your experiences and achievements to date.
- What was the last book you read that was relevant to your role/sector?
- What was the last training, conference, visit you went on?
- If you’re a member of a professional body/society, could you be making better use of the services you’re paying for?
- Visit vacancy sites out of curiosity. Sometimes, browsing to see who is recruiting, what the salary levels and expectations are of employers can be really insightful.
I hope you found this article of interest – it would be great to read your comments.
Sarah Robinson, Career & Personal Development Coach