Career kick: When your career needs a boost urgently

There are times when nothing can go wrong. You are young, you are extremely talented and you are in demand. You find that everybody would like to have you and use your skills and knowledge ? your employer, your colleagues and your peers. You are the darling of everyone. You would not even dream about the possibility of appearing an interview and not be selected. Your CV is the ticket to success.

Then, all of a sudden, without any warning you become past tense. As it usually happens with most tragedies, you wake up too late. You realize that your style, your qualifications, your expertise have stagnated and by doing so, others have overtaken you, displaced your utility and fit to the job. You find yourself the 'has-been' and in spite of your best efforts nobody really needs you any longer.

What do you do? Thank your stars that you reached here. No jokes! This is the lowest point you can reach, and hence, there is nowhere to go from here but up. There was a lovely story my professors had told my class to emphasize the importance of taking the bad with the good; and then use both for personal advancement.

There was an old donkey working hard for its owner. The owner loved him a lot, yet he realized that the donkey was growing old and he had made a mental note to get another soon. One day, the donkey slipped and fell in an abandoned well. The owner first tried hard to bring the animal up ? but when he realized that it might not be possible, he decided to bury him and finish him off. Therefore, he took a shovel of dirt and threw it inside over the donkey.

A few villagers came and joined him in this macabre act. The animal continued to cry pitifully. All of a sudden, the crying sounds ceased. They looked inside the well thinking that the animal has at last died. However, they were stunned with what they saw. The donkey was almost three feet higher in the well. The animal used the dirt shoveled to climb out of the well. Touched by the animal's persistence and intelligence, the villagers renewed their efforts and threw dirt faster. The donkey used to shake it off its back and then step on the dirt each time. Very soon, he climbed out of the well and trotted off to his home happily.

What do you see from this story ? the donkey had the choice to die or survive. He was old, tired and hence, was in a very disadvantageous position ? it would have been easier for it to give up. However, it chose to fight and use the worst factors against it to its advantage. The result was that it survived!

Apply this story to you. You are feeling out and useless and the new wave of technology and eager-to-work younger lot doe not seem to leave you any avenues to survive. However, this is the very lever you can use to promote your career. Look around for ways to upgrade your skills and match if not excel at what is in demand today. You may like to take up a few night classes, or enroll for an e-learning degree, or try to attend part-time classes to upgrade your skills.

Whatever you do, do not give up. If you find yourself about to be fired, you might speak with you immediate superiors and ask for 3-4 months time, in which you could re-shape your future priorities so you could contribute better to the position you are holding as well as your career direction.

Use this time to take active and visible (measurable) steps to show you are serious. You may use this time to put yourself back on the right track and activate all those plans you had before for self-improvement. At the end of the 3-4 months period, you should have something very concrete to show ? such as an enrollment for a higher degree, or diploma in gaining additional skills, and so on.

You should also use this time to revive your networking and showing that you are still a good bet for anyone in your field. You should not allow your network to settle on the impression that you are a 'have-been'. Keep your friends and well-wishers informed of every upgradation you add to your CV and make a pact with yourself never to let yourself get comfortable in any job.

The secret for success is only one ? work hard and stay ahead all the time. The moment you stopped, you are finished. You have to be on the 'top shelf' so people will find you great to pick up and use. You also have to be what is required today; it does not matter how good you were yesterday. This saying would rather put it pretty good ? you are only as good as your last assignment. The moment you have slipped with one, your reputation will slide.

Do not let that happen ? always learn and upgrade your skills and knowledge. It is never too late to take that degree, or appear for a PhD or enroll for a job-specific certificate course. You need to keep at it all the time ? only then you will be able to stay on the top.

Today, no job seeker waits to be discovered ? he/she rather work out methods to stand out in the crowds and attract the loudest attention. This can be done only by being up to date with the present requirements. Your experience of 15years plus, is great. However, you need to work today ? and unless you have what it takes, the present system will find you a cog and remove you.

Hence, you need to improve constantly. Your experience should be matched by the perseverance to keep in step with the times and succeeding. Your skills should be as sharp today as they were 15 years ago; however, for these to be like this, they will need to be applicable to the present context. Hence, the magic mantra here is improve, improve, improve.