When it comes to the practical world of work, the word ‘luck’ isn’t often used when people speak about their career.
Nonetheless, it seems that there are a lot of workers out there that feel they have been hit by bad luck during their working lives.
According to a recent Employee Outlook survey by the CIPD, 27% of respondents who felt that their career had failed to meet expectations blamed bad luck during their upbringing or education.
But is bad luck really to blame for so many people finding themselves in the wrong job? Or are they just setting unrealistic expectations for themselves?
Let’s face it, even if we have been lucky enough to have hugely supportive parents and succeed in achieving glowing qualifications, getting ahead in the world of work is far from a doddle.
Many of us will have our hearts set on particular roles that are at best competitive and at worst massively oversubscribed in terms of applicants.
In these situations it isn’t bad luck that is shrinking your chances of entering your chosen career – it’s just simple maths.
In other cases, many people end up in the wrong job because of a lack of clarity over the career they want to pursue, as well as a poor understanding of what that role will entail.
Add to this the problem of inadequate careers advice from the very people who should know better and it is no wonder so many people find themselves going down the wrong career path.
This is something again backed up by the CIPD’s survey, where 26% attributed being in the wrong job to receiving poor quality career advice and guidance at school.
In many cases, this costly confusion in direction starts during education, with 23% saying they took the wrong qualifications at school, college or university.
Of course, none of this is about bad luck. At best, it’s about a lack of clarity in direction during pre-work years; something that many of us can relate to. At worst, it’s about incompetent and sometimes indifferent careers advisers; people that quite a few of us can remember.
But if you have found yourself in the wrong job or just struggling to progress in the right job, there are still ways to boost your ‘luck’.
Time to turn things around
Whether you want to be singled out for promotion in your dream job or you are longing to move into a whole new type of career, developing your skills and expertise can help you maximize your chances of success.
Interestingly, 22% of the CIPD survey respondents who were disappointed with their career had not found the time to invest in their own personal development by studying for a qualification or developing new skills out of work.
Whilst this might be down to family commitments or a reluctance to add to their workload, up-skilling could be the only way that they can change their ‘luck’ for the better.
That is because gaining more qualifications can ensure that your employers see you as offering more value and commitment than your work colleagues, marking you out for career progression in terms of earnings, promotion and even job security.
Equally, if you are looking to move into a new field or industry, gaining relevant qualifications and combining this with your existing work experience can truly strengthen your position for leap frogging to a new work life.
However, in some cases even the best-laid plans can go awry, despite you having great qualifications, relevant experience and a stellar track record. Of course, you can mope about bad luck and whinge about life being unfair, but at the core of every crisis is your newest opportunity.
Take a positive approach to adversity
At the end of the day, most careers are like the businesses and organisations that support them; prone to internal roadblocks and external disruption.
Globalisation, recessions and changing technology are just three of the challenges facing today’s business world and if these factors affect business, you can be sure that they will disrupt the employment landscape.
In such uncertain times, it is not bad luck or good luck that will ensure the security and progress of those enterprises, but an ability to adapt and innovate at times of crisis. Exactly the same goes for your career.
By doing a SWOT analysis on your own career and taking measures to strengthen your position in times of change, you can help minimize any threats to your progress.
Sure, there will always be times of genuine bad luck, but even when a crisis strikes, being ready to adapt will do much more for your future than that a dusty old rabbit’s foot or trusted four-leafed clover.
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