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There is an adage that ‘time waits for no one’ and it resonates significantly for competent seasoned professionals trying to stay relevant in the Digital Age.  As organizations are increasingly lured by the promise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on account of supreme efficiency, questions arise for ‘dangling’ professionals on a prior ‘steady’ career path about the ‘actual usefulness’ of their previously ‘unquestioned’ skills.  It is no longer enough to be just a competent professional as both being an ‘active self-marketer’ and a ‘mentor to yourself’ (harmonizing self-reflection with progressive promotional initiatives) have become necessary to remain visible on the dynamic ‘radars’ of relevant decision-makers.  Consequently, the need for astute maneuvering through the labyrinth of applicable talent pipeline(s) and surviving till the very end is now a requirement and not a desirable trait for those seeking long and prosperous careers.  The following 6C’s are being presented as a viable career-boosting strategy in the respective context:

This pertains to deep self-reflection and an intrinsic call to progressive action for realizing the desired interpretation of a successful career.  It entails doing a thorough gap-analysis of current practices by questioning/reviewing/assessing the conventions/norms/traditions/status-quo for accomplishing desired goals/objectives and coming up with the strategic imperatives that are aligned with the ‘personal’ and the ‘organizational’ vision and mission.

For example, a seasoned sales professional used to conducting successful in-person sales primarily through product brochures/PowerPoint presentations, might feel marginalized in a Digital world that is gravitating towards the use of Virtual Reality (VR)/Augmented Reality (AR)/holographic projections in terms of gaining additional business by leveraging a heightened sense of the ‘customer experience’ factor.  Therefore, unless he/she takes a proactive interest in upgrading his/her skill set with respect to such technological innovations and reconfiguring the art of persuasion accordingly; there is a strong chance that he/she will be looking at increasingly slimmer prospects of a long and prosperous career.

This refers to utilizing the gap-analysis from the previous stage to explore, examine and study available options and narrowing focus on goals/objectives/efforts/initiatives/measures that have the highest probability of success.  It requires rising above pre-conceived notions and the ‘noise’ generated from ‘solicited/unsolicited’ advice from ‘well-wishers’/pseudo-experts that is not firmly grounded in facts and often floated during informal discussions.

For example, a retired family member with a successful career before the Digital era suggests a ‘proven’ path for steadily climbing the corporate ladder to a person involved with the tech industry.  His/her advice might include, not questioning the supervisor’s judgment, being careful with innovative ideas, reinforcing a ‘good soldier’ image, siding with the majority, refraining from excessive limelight, etc.  However, his/her suggestions seem at odds with the way things are preferred in that person’s organization.  This could include, encouragement to question the supervisor’s judgment in case of a better option, being bolder with voicing innovative ideas, not shying away from being the ‘rebel’ in case of employing unconventional approaches to work, shedding the ‘groupthink’ mindset to forge a distinct identity buoyed by intrinsic talent, etc.  Therefore, a more prudent course of action would be to rationally evaluate the ‘on-ground’ realities of the current work environment while charting the future course of action(s) by gaining information and expertise from more ‘relevant’ sources and then applying one’s own sound judgment in taking ‘sound and robust’ decisions.

This pertains to processing qualitative/quantitative data and gaining a good comprehension of the implications of operationalising selected course of action(s).  It demands an ‘open’ accommodation of facts that frees the mind to the possibility of alternative thinking.  It involves doing research and gathering information with respects to costs/benefits analysis for attaining a self-assuring comfort level with respect to taking calculated risks.

For example, an enterprising marketing professional reviews available literature and multimedia tools to study the prevailing trends, futuristic projections and views of associated experts to realize his/her own career prospects with respect to the evolving demands of the Digital age.  This could also include having informal discussions with prominent guidance counselors and talent management/HR professionals for gaining insights into charting a successful career within the chosen profession or taking a calculated risk of switching careers to stay relevant in the long run.

This refers to conditioning yourself in preparation for the consequences of taking the selected course of action(s) with respect to the previous stage.  It entails achieving a ‘state of readiness’ that includes a sound understanding and training/development for the ‘best case’ and ‘worst case’ scenarios.  Most importantly, it requires the alignment of cognitive faculties and emotional intelligence to achieve desired outcomes.

For example, an experienced construction professional realizes that materials made from 3D-printing can greatly ease the amount of work required to finish the job on time and he/she would be at a great disadvantage if required training is not undertaken to match his younger peers who are much more comfortable using the respective technology.  Consequently, setting aside years of ‘comfort level’ associated with conventional work, he/she gains practical knowledge on how to operate a 3D-printer and learns about the finer points of its maintenance.  An even more ambitious person might buy one for home/personal projects, rather than, just be contend with using the one at work.

This pertains to operationalisation of the finely-tuned approach for maximizing the benefits from prioritization of desired course of action(s).  It includes devising viable steps that effectively cater to all areas of concern and provide a balanced approach to achieving clearly defined goals/objectives.  It is welcoming of all meaningful measures that assure a progressive stride and illuminates the path to sustainable success.

For example, a veteran interior designer uses YouTube to provide visual context to a practical demonstration of various decorative styles that positively reflect inherent skills/knowledge and then tracks the relevant metrics to analyze the effectiveness of such initiatives.  Additionally, he/she features the associated link(s) to respective video(s) on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to gain more traffic and build a loyal following.  Furthermore, he/she writes/blogs for influential publications as a conduit for promoting his/her business and engages in active participation/networking during high-visibility professional forums.

This refers to fortifying the systematic approach to overcoming work-related challenges and optimizing cerebral application in coming up with novel solutions to daunting career impediments.  It advocates reinforcement through the astute use of available resources and beckons a penchant for experiential learning.  It affirms ‘seeking betterment’ as a necessary trait for innovation and visibly manifests the willingness to change.

For example, a bank manager proactively and honestly seeks 360˚ feedback on his/her performance without the compulsion of an HR/talent management mandate.  Consequently, he/she uses it in terms of self-driven performance improvement and gaining necessary learning/development to overcome any identified shortcomings/challenges.  Additionally, he/she also carries out informal engagement sessions regularly with his/her team that are meant to be a ‘two-way’ approach to ‘mending’ any ‘tears’ in the ‘psychological contract’.  Furthermore, he/she takes an active interest in astutely exploring the changing nature of employment and career progression within banking and strives to take timely remedial measures that open up new possibilities or broaden current options for his/her continued relevance in the Digital age, rather than, lumbering along on the ‘depreciating’ strength of his/her past accomplishments.

Parting Thoughts
The aforementioned approach serves as a timely guide/enabler for a cognizant seasoned professional to proactively self-improve and self-adjust in view of the sweeping changes taking place within the relevant corporate realm.  It requires an honest self-reflection, the humility to admit the need for change, the courage to come out of the comfort zone, the astuteness to overcome challenges with creative solutions, and an unwavering commitment to persevere till the attainment of desired goals/objectives.  Will you commit?

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