Unsure how to plan your future in these changing times? There may be uncertainty but change also brings opportunities. Learn to recognise them and come out on top with these practical tips and resources based on the latest career theories.
The ‘Chaos theory of careers’ says changes, both small and large, impact our future. Think about what has had a significant influence on your life – a chance event or meeting, moving away from home, starting a family? (The pandemic has also changed everything, of course). Here’s how to be prepared for your career twists and turns:
• Be open to change and chance events.
• Give opportunities you may have not thought about a chance by understanding the job description and what transferable skills you can offer.
• Get out of your comfort zone – try new opportunities for upskilling and networking such as a virtual internship, work experience, volunteering, or a different role at work.
• Take a planned risk such as leaving a job or changing careers.
‘Planned Happenstance’ is the theory that chance occurrences often determine our lives and career choices. It’s all about being prepared to take advantage of unexpected events and see the possibilities they open up. Here’s how to put the theory into practice:
• Curiosity – keep exploring learning and continuing professional development opportunities.
• Persistence – take a look at our career resilience webinar for strategies to help you overcome obstacles.
• Flexibility – be adaptable to change or new circumstances. If you’ve experienced a setback, feel stuck in a rut, or want a change of career, then try to focus on the things that you can control.
• Optimism – look for the positives in unplanned events.
Take a step back and consider what possibilities are open to you. ‘Opportunity Structure Theory’ shows that our career choices are influenced by the ever-changing world around us. All we need to do is learn to adapt and recognise the new opportunities. Here are some suggestions of how:
• Search Opportunity Hub regularly for the latest job, internship and volunteer roles.
• Sniff out unadvertised opportunities or create your own: Practise networking by attending online employer workshops and events. Use social media to network with employers and new contacts. Start networking by meeting fellow OU students in the Careers Café.
• Looking for an alternative to the 9 to 5? One option is to move to a “portfolio career” with multiple sources of income, rather than relying on just one. Read the story of OU student Larissa who has done just that.
• If you’ve recently lost your job, visit Redundancy – your next steps and listen to our new podcast series on ‘Reframing Redundancy’ to help you turn the situation round and open new doors.
If you’re still unsure of where to go next, book in for a Careers Consultation with a member of the team to discuss how you might apply your unique skillset to an unknown future.