Career Development Strategies: Create a life, not just a pension
Career Development Strategies: Create a life, not just a pension

During most of the twentieth century, it was possible to be hired at one company right out of school and to continue working there through marriage, children, and middle age. This system worked out nicely for retirement benefits, but it is changing as quickly as landline telephones are disappearing.

Today, most people will change career paths five times, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That can mean terror for the person trained only at one job, or it can mean great opportunities for those willing to become educated and take risks. For almost everyone, it will mean multiple jobs and job titles throughout life.

When it comes to developing a career path, you first need to decide who you are and what you want. Hopefully, that decision will lead you to advanced training in your area of interest, and ideally, you’ll get a peek into your chosen career field with professional internships. But what if you’ve almost finished a degree and hate the jobs that seem to be available? Or what if you’ve worked in the landline telephone industry, for example?

Take heart. Many of the skills you have learned will be marketable in other fields. Your inborn talents and interests that have made you successful so far are also on your side; your career is about you and your progression, not about the signature on your paycheck. is a great resource for researching additional education and career options.

When considering a career change, think back to the reasons you got into your current career in the first place. Was it a love of language, a love for animals, or a passion for symmetry? Then, decide whether those ideas are still valuable and relevant. If they are but you still want a change, look for opportunities in your current career field through networking and traditional job searching, If your values and priorities have changed,  you should make a list of your skills, interests, and talents on a blank page and start from scratch. Who you are will lead you to make a good living.

Next, you’ll need to study the job environment. Questions such as whether you can move and how far you can travel will be important, as will questions about income and employment trends.  You may also consider the kind of experience you would get by changing careers. For example, a job managing a shoe production company may not be your end goal, but the management experience you get from it will put you ahead of your peers down the road.

Even for those who are happy with their careers and want to stay in their companies until retirement, an important part of career-building is keeping your resume up to date. Keeping a current portfolio is also important, even if it means simply compiling a list of projects with photos attached or technologies you know well. Always be ready and open for new opportunities, and don’t forget that your career is about creating a life, not about earning a pension.

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