This is the second post in a three-part series of my agile journey as a new business book author.
The first article covered the idea spark, and how to get started with your book. This article focuses on the theme of my book: Activate Your Agile Career: How Responding to Change will Inspire Your Life’s Work.
Career Agility for the Future of Your Work
Classic strategies for career growth are no longer relevant.
Two questions arise:
- How can individuals take control of their careers, while responding to changes in technology and workplace hiring trends?
- How can careerists optimize their work environments to meet their personal needs?
The world of work is changing. Technology, rapid change, and workplace hiring efficiencies have changed the rulebook for career success.
Corporations have responded with a leaner workforce and full participation in the freelance economy. Contract workers with specialized skills are fulfilling the needs of previously full-time employees.
Decisions and indecision about working independently or how to navigate with strategic purpose in your organization have morphed into a new workplace reality.
The Agile Careerist Project
The Agile Careerist Project is the result of my personal journey, fueled by curiosity and questions about how some workers respond to change, while others resist.
I became particularly interested in learning how people can build lives and careers they love. The resulting philosophy is career agility. This framework is equal parts mindset, reflection, planning, and action.
What is Career Agility?
The agile career is defined:
An agile career is a self reflective, incremental career path, guided by response to change, evolving job roles, and designed to optimize creativity, growth, and happiness. —Marti Konstant
With the insights gained through dozens of interviews, custom survey research, and the study of agile methods applied across multiple industries, I developed the Career Agility Model.
The model flexes with you and your workplace.
Consider the framework as your guide to the habits and actions on your path to gaining creativity, growth, and happiness in your life’s work. This visual illustration of the agile career principles outlines the perpetual career pattern of workers whose skills and attitudes command workplace relevance.
The journey map, portrayed as a figure eight, outlines the seven principles.
Following are the seven principles designed to empower you to become the expert navigator of your career.
1. Create an Idea Zone
The first principle in career agility is the Idea Zone. The zone is a space in your mind, an archive of meaningful and inspiring ideas. It’s cumulative. Think about where you tend to let your mind wander, and engage it with purpose!
Commit to writing these ideas down. These concepts or observations may be breadcrumbs or half-thoughts, but you never know how they will influence your future paths.
Create a digital document (Notes on your phone or a Google doc you can access from anywhere) or head to the store and pick out a small notebook you can carry with you. Instead of pulling out your phone to stare at social media on the train or bus, review your ideas or codify your new ones!
2. Pursue it in Parallel
Pursuing a parallel pathway enables you to expand your thinking and bring fresh ideas to your daily work. It also prepares you for a potential lane change in your future.
Consider a skill or technique that makes you curious or catches your attention for the sole purpose of learning something new. Pick one or two from the following list: side gigs, freelance work, consulting assignments, education, or hobbies.
Create conditions for creative thought, extra income, or future job opportunities. Expanding on your expertise in this way enables you to add to your burgeoning portfolio of talents.
3. A/B Test Your Career
Test your interest and aptitude as you say, “Which do I like better, Job A or B?” Move to Job C or go back to a role similar to Job A, depending on your track record or inclination. Give yourself permission to explore as you discover the best fit for you and your talents.
Jot down the jobs and volunteer opportunities during your career. What did you like about and learn from each?
Evaluate job attributes such as: schedule, commute, processes, responsibilities, room for growth, travel requirements, collaboration, and sufficient time to create during the workday. Where do these positions rank on your scale of creativity, growth, and happiness?
4. Respond to Change
Acceleration of technology and continuous state of change calls for flexibility and willingness to adapt. Lean into change and make adjustments to your career status, rather than sticking to a rigid plan. Acclimate to economic developments and corporate adjustments by uncovering engaging projects.
Discover market and employment gaps you can fulfill in a unique manner. Ask yourself where you see change happening in the workplace. Observe trends in the market and determine what skills will be needed.
If your industry is contracting, consider coursework that will help you navigate to a role in a different company or profession. Take action rather than waiting for something to happen.
5. Optimize Your Personal Brand
Being good at a job is useful. But you are more than a job description and series of tasks.
There’s a reason people are talking about personal brands on stages and via blogs. Building and maximizing your brand is a personalized ticket to work you love and toward enhancing creativity, growth, and happiness.
Beyond a resume or an online portfolio, your personal brand encompasses more than the sum of your work output or products. It includes your distinguishing characteristics and values. Your brand is the combined expression of your experiences, strengths, beliefs, and abilities.
You are more apt to land or create a job aligned with who you are and want to be if you understand and intentionally share your personal brand.
6. Activate the Feedback Squad
Feeling uncertain or uninspired about work can feel isolating. Instead of working on your career path as a solo pursuit, engage with people you respect and admire. Soliciting feedback from others shines a light on fresh perspectives and insightful guidance.
Your feedback squad may include mentors, career coaches, trusted friends, or savvy colleagues. Learn from others via online channels. There are lots and lots of private Facebook Groups and opportunities to be a part of feedback-centered mastermind groups.
Pay it forward; be part of a feedback squad for a friend or coworker.
7. Think of Your Career as a Series of Projects
In the 20th century, some workers stayed with one company and one role for an entire career. Job security might be appealing, but is it fulfilling?
Whether you stay in one company or change organizations, think of your work as evolving job roles. Consider two- to three-year projects capable of building on your incremental knowledge.
Remember what it is like to start a new project? Enthusiasm, energy, and drive accompany you as you march through the progress. Projects have a beginning, middle, and end, making certain you will not get bored with your accomplishments.
Harness the enthusiasm of a fresh start, master the job, and build new competencies. Become the most eligible employee for promotion or the best candidate at another company. Maybe you’re ready to launch your personal startup project.
The business world has evolved to address dramatic change and market conditions. The very definition of a career has shifted to accommodate business needs and your personal preferences.
The role of the individual in this evolution has a greater degree of influence in establishing the new rules.
We only have to look to millennials to observe the profound changes with corporations to attract and retain employees. Flexible schedules, vacation policies, reasonable parental leave, and quality of the work environment are a few examples.
I look forward to joining you as you navigate your career landscape with confidence and great expectations.
You deserve it!
If you enjoyed this article, consider reading this comprehensive article on What is Career Agility? that I published on LinkedIn.
Learn How Career Agility Impacts the Future of Your Work Opportunities and Happiness. Plus receive bonus content for launching your book on Amazon!
Marti Konstant, author of Activate Your Agile Career: How Responding to Change Will Inspire Your Life’s Work is a workplace futurist with an agile mindset. She is a career growth analyst, best-selling author on Amazon, speaker, personal brand architect, and founder of the Agile Careerist Project™. What started out as a quest to fine-tune her evolving career sparked a research project, a book, and workshops, where future of work and career agility are central themes. agilecareer.com