What does career planning and a shooting gallery have in common?
You may have at one time or another gone to the midway at the carnival or fair. As you wander down the line of “skill” games you come across the shooting gallery. As you watch the contestants you see that the game consists of aiming a rifle at a row of moving ducks, firing and hopefully knocking them down in order. Very quickly you learn that if you aim directly at the duck, you miss every time. This is because the duck is moving and if you aim where the duck is, by the time your bullet arrives at that point the duck has moved forward and out of the trajectory of the bullet. You realize that to hit the duck you must aim for a point forward of the duck and by the time your bullet has arrived at that point so has the duck, you hear that satisfying “plink” – YOU WIN!
I think this game provides us with a lesson in planning our careers.
Hopefully we chose a career because it excited our passion. We wake up in the morning thinking: “Yes, it’s Monday, I get to go to work!” We love what we do and can’t imagine doing anything else. But we all know that as our careers progress the requirements for success evolve and change, new technology is introduced, what is new and hot today is passé tomorrow.
Today’s environment is all about “What have you done for me today?” So just like in the shooting gallery we need to be able to anticipate what is going to be the next technology, what is the next new evolution of our career. If you are constantly aiming your career at where it is today, just like the moving ducks you will be left behind. Suddenly you will be sitting there wondering why you are not getting the plum assignments, the praise you once felt entitled to, or even a seat at table.
As an example, COBOL was once a primary programming language. Today’s tools are C, C#, Java and artificial intelligence. While I’ll admit there are thousands of individuals that continue to maintain and work with legacy systems that require COBOL, that number is growing smaller every day. And there are thousands of programmers who thought the need for COBOL programmers would never go away and are no longer employed in high paying IT jobs. They didn’t anticipate the change to new technology and were not prepared when the change occurred.
To effectively plan your career, you need to anticipate the next evolution of your career and be ready to step up and demonstrate you have the new skills needed to succeed. If you are an expert in your field today – begin gaining the skills to be tomorrow’s expert.
Rick Christensen: Director, Career Transition Practice
Rick has been a career consultant for over 20 years, serving a very broad-based and diverse clientele. His specialties include effective group facilitation, one-on-one coaching and consultation at all levels including senior executives.
Rick’s passion is coaching individuals through career transitions, developing career management strategies and in identifying and sharpening competencies to open doors to new opportunities. His efforts have assisted thousands of individuals achieve their full potential.