Career advice: Heading off a crisis

Many career crises are caused by the fact that people in 'job' mode often get out of 'career' mode and become uncompetitive in the career area. Some skills atrophy through lack of use. Others become obsolete. The usual result is ten years down the track, the career opportunities have dried up. That is avoidable, but there are other issues created by career immobility.

You don't have to be an obsessive careerist to know where the likely minefields in your own career are. Most people are acutely aware of changes in their careers, particularly anything seen as a threat. The pity of it is that some people see an oncoming train, and don't get out of the way.

The most common, and most avoidable, career threat is unfamiliarity with new things in the career path. Some people are so busy that even though they're aware of the changes, they're not even vaguely familiar with the skills required to be able to adapt. Another threat is the constant change in the workplace, where jobs vanish on the basis of new sets of job criteria. This is also usually a matter of adaption to the new modes of work in the career path.

There are a lot of ways of staying out of these obvious danger zones. The most obvious, and easily the best way, is to stay current with the big changes in your career's path. Emerging trends in any profession or industry are pretty easy to keep track of, and you can check out new concepts as they arise. You can decide what you need to learn, and stay current at the same time.

To keep a job, you need to be more than well informed. You need to be credibly qualified. You will need to develop at least some new skills. That's where things get difficult, and it's advisable to take action before your job's future depends on being able to do the revised version of it. The problem with 'emerging trends' is that they evolve so rapidly, and you can be left standing without even basic skills if you don't get some experience.

Getting training and ongoing studies

In most professions, there are a range of ongoing training options that can both give you the required level of skills and naturally keep you up to date. Your career skills aren't allowed to stagnate or become obsolete. Trainers are usually well ahead of others in the skills department, and their knowledge has to be practical in order to train. This is actually a form of networking, in the sense of career information.

The other career advantage of systematic training is to make sure that your existing skills are current. In the career sense, rusty skills are very good advancement preventing mechanisms. If you don't have current training, previous experience will date back too far for an employer. You can miss real job opportunities with frightening regularity.

The only good career crises are those that never happen.