How to stay competitive in your business career

competitive It feels like it gets more competitive every year – and there’s some strong data behind that perception. Automation, outsourcing and austerity measures have led to spiralling attempts to tighten the belt across most sectors. A more educated population and limited opportunities just increase the pressure.

Brexit has been causing uncertainty and creating unpredictable effects across multiple sectors. In some sectors and regions, there will be skill shortages creating more opportunities in the short term. In some companies, employees are being asked to do more and cover for multiple positions. Even when automation hasn’t functionally taken on much of the workload, employer perceptions around its benefits and appropriate staffing levels are putting more pressure on to manage with fewer positions. Successive waves of redundancy consultations are limiting opportunity.

Maintaining and growing your career in this uncertain and high-pressure environment is a challenge. It takes focused, strategic effort across a number of dimensions to stay competitive.

Traditionally, employers are more comfortable talking about skills. Employers tend to prefer employees with direct experience in the skills, processes, tools and technologies that they are expected to use in their day-to-day work. While this is an outmoded approach, it’s wise to understand things from employers’ perspectives and use that to your advantage. This requires you to look to the future of your own career. Where would you like to be? What company and what position are you trying to move toward? Look for opportunities to gain the specific skills needed by volunteering for projects, self-study or pursuing formal education.

More forward-thinking employers know that it’s not just hard skills that make for valuable hires. Consciously or unconsciously, they’ll be looking for soft skills and personal characteristics or attributes that could make you valuable. They need to know that you’re a good cultural fit with their company and team, that you have leadership, critical thinking, strategic planning and rapid learning skills as appropriate to the job title. Use this to your advantage by putting yourself in your employer’s shoes and trying to understand what they’re most in need of, and then positioning yourself accordingly.

Another way to stay competitive is to train up. You can gain an edge in your current position, prepare for a more senior role, or pursue a change in career with appropriate educational investment. Formal educational qualifications can impress employers or clients and open doors, but the right programme can also prepare you with the skills and characteristics that you’ll need to succeed and remain competitive. LSBF offers flexible educational options that you can engage in around your existing career and focuses on preparing students to succeed over the course of their careers in the changing work environment.

Staying competitive in your business career is a continuous effort. You can lay a solid foundation with the right educational programme and by creating a strategic plan for your career that can guide what skills and attributes you will need to develop. Train up by selectively adding skills in advance of when you’ll need them, and put yourself in your employer’s shoes to identify what would give them the most value so that you can position yourself accordingly.

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