From Surviving to Thriving: The Key Elements of Career Resilience

Career Resilience Is An Activity We Cannot Continue To Put On The Back Burner.

Stepping out of 2023 and into 2024, our work environments have shifted right before our eyes. What might be driving this transformation? A whirlwind of tech innovations, economic rollercoasters, and a workforce that’s redefining what it needs and wants by the minute. 

The sands are shifting. 

And here’s something you’ve probably noticed too – layoffs are on the rise, and lately, it seems like everyone’s switching jobs more than ever (just take a scroll through LinkedIn). The L&D industry is seeing a shift as professionals move between roles and organizations more often than in previous years. What’s driving this hopping around? It’s a mix of reaction and strategy, thanks to a job market that’s as stable as a house of cards. Companies are in a constant state of rightsizing, delayering, and downsizing… basically, it’s a game of corporate musical chairs.

Let’s face it, the concept of a linear career path is rapidly becoming obsolete and is particularly so in the field of L&D. The rapid pace of change in organizational goals, driven by automation, digital transformation, and globalization, demands a workforce that is agile, adaptable, and constantly learning. According to the World Economic Forum’s “Future of Jobs Report 2023,” the top skills that will be in demand by 2027:

  • Analytical thinking,
  • Creative thinking,
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Big Data

In addition, the report also highlights the importance of technological literacy, curiosity and lifelong learning, and resilience, flexibility, and agility in the future job market.

Within this context, career resilience emerges as a critical attribute for L&D professionals. Defined as the ability to adapt to change, overcome challenges, and bounce back from setbacks, career resilience is no longer just a desirable trait but a necessity that cannot be overlooked.

Understanding Career Resilience

So, what’s at the heart of career resilience? It’s a trio of self-awareness, adaptability, and getting proactive with your career game plan. It’s about knowing who you are, being ready to pivot, and steering your career ship intentionally. As noted in a Harvard Business Review article, Building Career Resilience,” it’s all about staying ready for change – the stuff you see coming and, most importantly, the stuff you don’t. It means having the foresight to see the trends and getting ready to skill up or shift gears, depending on what the world throws at you. 

You may think you’re okay, and maybe you are, but let’s not forget the job market today isn’t playing by the old rules. Gone are the days of those straight-as-an-arrow career paths. The concept of a career for life, often within a single organization, simply doesn’t exist any longer. 

L&D professionals are now more likely to experience a variety of roles, job functions, and even industries throughout their careers. This shift demands a new approach to career planning, one that emphasizes flexibility, continuous learning, and personal branding. For those of us in L&D, it’s all about keeping these skills sharp, so we’re ready for whatever comes our way.

But how do we get there from here? 

Assess to Prepare 

When you’re setting out on the road to career resilience, it all starts with a solid self-check – figuring out where you stand. Taking a good, honest look at yourself is the first critical step.

This isn’t just a surface-level review of your skills; it’s a deep dive into understanding your professional identity. Ask yourself: What are your standout strengths? Where are the opportunities for your development? 

This stage is about mapping out your capabilities against the backdrop of the demands in the L&D field. It’s a process that demands honesty and reflection, one that has to align your personal competencies with the evolving needs of the industry.

Once you’ve pinpointed your current standing and potential growth areas, it’s time to set your sights on your “skill BHAGs” (Big Hairy Audacious Goals). These aren’t just ordinary goals but visionary targets stretching your abilities and ambition. These skill BHAGs, inspired by the concept from Jim Collins and Jerry Porras’s ‘Built to Last,’ are about pushing your boundaries. 

They could involve mastering emerging technologies in L&D, rolling out new and creative learning projects, or becoming an authority in a specialized area. These are not mere goals but commitments to significant, transformative professional growth.

With your “skill BHAGs” in place, the next step is to cultivate a habit of regular self-reflection and active feedback seeking. This practice is critical to staying aligned with your goals and adapting your approach as you progress. Reflect on your actions, the outcomes, and the lessons learned. Seek feedback from peers, mentors, or industry experts. This ongoing evaluation and adjustment process keeps your career agile and responsive.

You’ve Upskilled, Now What? Reinvention.

It’s not a “new you” it’s a “different you.” 

Reinventing yourself is essentially about growth and adaptation. It’s recognizing that the person you were at the start of your career, or even a few years ago, may not be who you are today. It involves introspection and a willingness to question your current path and capabilities.

Whether it’s acquiring new skills, shifting into a different industry, or changing your approach to work, reinvention is about responding proactively to what life throws at you. It shouldn’t shock anyone to hear me say this is about a commitment to personal and professional development, ensuring you and your skills remain relevant. Reinventing yourself means embracing the journey of lifelong learning and self-improvement.

As uncomfortable as it may sound, beginning the process of reinvention means stepping out of your comfort zone by taking on new projects, roles, or challenges that differ from your usual responsibilities. 

This might involve: 

  • Volunteering for a cross-functional project at work
  • Starting a side project
  • Joining a professional group outside of your usual area of expertise.
  • Attending workshops or conferences in a field that’s new or unfamiliar to you

Anything that may be an opportunity to expose you to different perspectives and skill sets. Such experiences diversify your capabilities and broaden your perspective, building up your professional toolkit with a wider range of skills and insights.

Consider the careers of two masters of reinvention, Madonna and Lady Gaga. These iconic artists have continually evolved their images and music styles to stay ahead in the ever-changing music industry. For you, this translates to adapting your expertise and methods to the shifting trends in the field. You can pivot your career while maintaining your fundamental professional identity. It’s about creatively integrating new trends and technologies into your work, not unlike how musicians blend various musical genres into their unique sound.

Getting comfortable with change and reinvention can definitely feel a bit scary, but it’s essential for staying relevant and preparing for the future. Don’t forget, that significant personal and professional growth occurs in these moments of uncertainty and challenge.

Embrace Self-Promotion

As we’ve seen with the likes of Madonna and Lady Gaga, reinventing yourself is only part of the journey. These artists not only evolved their styles and adapted to new trends but also mastered the art of self-promotion. They’ve shown us that it’s not just about changing; it’s about letting the world know about those changes. This is when we really need to get on board with the critical step of getting good at self-promotion.

Self-promotion, when done right, is an art.

In the context of career resilience, self-promotion is more than just a strategy; it’s a necessity. As the L&D world continues to morph, you must stay sharp and make sure everyone knows what you can do. Embracing self-promotion is about finding the right balance. It’s not about oversharing or exaggerating your accomplishments but presenting them authentically and strategically. It’s about telling your professional story in a way that engages others and underscores your value in a sea of other L&D voices all trying to do the same. 

I realize this is a hard nut to crack with many L&D professionals. Self-promotion has a certain stigma to it. The key to overcoming the stigma of self-promotion lies in recognizing the difference between boastful bragging and strategic authenticity. 

It starts by recognizing that staying silent about your skills and achievements puts you on the back foot. Self-promotion, when done well, is a tool for professional advancement. It’s about informing, not boasting; it’s sharing, not showing off. This shift in mindset is crucial for those who want to be recognized and considered for new opportunities, collaborations, and advancements.

Future Proofing Your Career: Charting Your Own Path

As we wrap up our discussion on career resilience, it’s essential to remember the importance of taking ownership of your own career development. Relying solely on your organization for professional growth can hold you back, especially at a time when your own skills and knowledge are your biggest assets. The responsibility to take control of our own progress and development is increasingly in our hands

The first step in taking ownership of your career is recognizing the importance of self-driven learning. This is not a new piece of advice. But advice that many in the industry fail to take seriously. If we don’t want to be on the outside of the job market looking in, we must set personal learning goals, seek out resources, and dedicate time to self-education. This is simply not a “nice to do” or “when I have time” activity any longer. It’s a must-do, right now.

Career ownership is about recognizing that while organizations can provide support and resources, true growth comes from a personal commitment to continual improvement and adaptation. By embracing self-driven learning and leveraging the wide variety of resources available, you equip yourself not just for the job you have but for the career you want to have – the career you DESERVE to have

Let’s Wrap This Up

While taking the steps toward career resilience, recognize that it will be both challenging and rewarding. Each step you take towards self-improvement, each risk you embrace, and every skill you acquire adds to your professional growth.

Your journey is yours. It’s unique. It’s filled with opportunities to learn, grow, and allow yourself to have new thoughts about your career path. So, embrace the uncertainty, celebrate your progress, and keep moving forward. 

The future is not just something to prepare for; it’s something you create with every new thing you learn. Think of this journey as your own personal ‘stage’ for growth and innovation. Celebrate your milestones, learn from every experience, and keep moving forward with determination. 

The future of your career is your masterpiece in the making.

Ready to begin tackling career resilience?

Learning Rebels has organized the event schedule over January and February to support you in your career growth. Here’s how.

➡️First, join us for the ‘Smashing SMART Goals‘ Coffee Chat. This chat is where we begin to dive into the art of setting effective, achievable goals beyond SMART. 

➡️But that’s not all – we’re also thrilled to invite you to a special workshop, ‘Unleashing Your Big Hairy Audacious Goals,’ led by me, where we’ll explore how to take what matters most and make those audacious career aspirations come to life. 

➡️Lastly, join Brenda Peterson, The Lay Off Lady, in February for her “Learn Something New Session” about Career Resilience.  

These sessions are designed to empower you with the tools and insights needed to elevate and prepare for the future. Don’t miss this opportunity to connect, learn, and grow with fellow L&D professionals. 

Sign up now and take the first step towards unlocking your full potential!

Shannon Tipton

Shannon Tipton

As Owner of Learning Rebels, Shannon Tipton is a skilled learning strategist, content developer and International speaker. Shannon has over 20 years of leadership experience developing successful learning strategies and infrastructures for training departments within organizations in North America, Europe and Korea.

Shannon works with people and organizations to develop learning solutions that brings actual business results. Recognized as bringing real-world expertise into the learning field, Shannon integrates technologies and social learning tools to strengthen workplace alignment, enhance collaboration and increase learning connectivity.

As author of “Disruptive Learning” Shannon frequently speaking at conferences across North America and Europe and ranks as one of the top 100 L&D influencers on Twitter (@stipton).

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