Developing Your Career

How to Avoid Dreaded “Career Drift”

By Greg Simpson on December 6, 2012

Have you found yourself coasting in your career, with an aimless indifference that’s taken you from one position to another without much thought as to where you’re headed? Many people will admit that a career is something that happens to them more than a process that they planned. Bear in mind: If you’re not paddling the canoe, you’re drifting. And drifting can lead you into some rough waters. As some outdated jobs vanish, new opportunities are opening up everyday. You just need to have a strategy for directing your career in an unpredictable environment.

How can you avoid drifting into complacency? How do you predict the future of your industry or occupation in order to create a realistic plan? Instead of a crystal ball, simply use the information and research that’s readily available to you.

  • Embrace statistics. Bookmark sites that provide hard data. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook provides lists of the fastest-growing and highest-paying U.S. jobs. The site also includes job descriptions, working conditions, education and other qualifications for hundreds of jobs. Other sources such as IBIS World offer subscription market and industry analyses, which are then published on other business sites free of charge.
  • Gather intelligence. Regular visits to the Wall Street Journal, Inc., Fortune, Fast Company and Forbes websites – as well as publications related to your specific industry or profession – will keep you informed on the latest trends and career-related news. Sign up for SmartBrief on Workforce, a news aggregator, and get a daily dose of workforce-related news delivered right to you. Networking through social media and professional associations is also an effective way to stay in-the-know.

Is it even possible to “plan” a career in a constantly evolving business climate? In a word, yes – but it requires a flexible, big-picture strategy with incremental steps and a commitment to performing the due diligence required to take the necessary actions and make informed decisions.

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