By Bank Windhoek's Human Resources: Business Partner, Agnes Yeboah.
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the fourth industrial revolution. These days, because career paths are rapidly evolving, securing and maintaining a job requires more effort, planning, and monitoring than ever before. Employees need to take control of their career projection for success.
As new career paths emerge, traditional ones are fast disappearing and the candidate pool continues to grow as more entrants are produced from the educational and vocational sectors, however mainly due to the devastating impact of COVID-19 across all sectors, jobs are few.
Successful career management is a delicate balance of various activities. It involves self-knowledge, creating and maintaining a visible personal brand, and having a sponsor – an influential senior co-worker. A sponsor can guide and influence an employee's career progression through the maze and politics of advancement, learning and development, and building a supportive network of individuals invested in the employees' success.
Self-knowledge requires a profound reflection on answering the question of 'who you are'. Identity forms the foundation on which everything rests. It gives insight into a person's values, interests, purpose, principles, and competencies, and potential skills they need to acquire to position themselves for the next role.
To succeed, an employee needs to take inventory of their current competencies and skills, as an entrepreneur would of their products and services, and compare it to where they envision themselves. They should understand their purpose and the intangible reasons behind why they are in a particular position.
Once they are aware of their purpose, competencies, skills, and career goals, the ability to market themselves, is essential to their success.
Personal branding essentially is how an individual is perceived and experienced by others in the workplace and beyond. It constitutes the stories told about them by others. They can control the narrative by being consistent, authentic, and focused. Consistency in delivering on the assigned tasks at work; being genuine and authentic also builds trust and communicates a trustworthy and dependable individual. Because impressions are long-lasting, employees must make themselves memorable and be positive-minded in their engagements.
Working in a company that shares an employee's values helps tremendously fast track their career success as it recognises and affirms their actions and behaviours.
As mentioned above, building a supportive network of individuals within and outside the organisation allows employees to lean into positions they aspire to because their network amplifies their image.
To this effect, employees should cultivate and nurture relationships with their peers, managers, and subordinates. It is also crucial that they find a sponsor who will give them a value-added advantage. They should remain consistent and commit to their success goals wholeheartedly. Most importantly, they should be visionary and not be fearful of trying new things and taking risks. It is their career, and positioning it well is vital.