You can take your career in an exciting new direction by making the most of your transferable skills, says Ben Chambers

We are all going to be affected by change in some way over the coming months. Whether we are looking forward to the change and are embracing it, or doing our best to resist it, we cannot alter the fact it will happen.

Competence isn’t enough. You have to ensure that people who matter know who you are

The one thing that is going to affect how we emerge from the change is the attitude we have as we enter into it. Putting union action, legal challenges and government decisions to one side, the scale of the changes means they are not within our sphere of influence. However, we are able to control our levels of employability by maximising the opportunities we have to gain skills and package them in the most effective way possible.

Whatever your role and organisation you work within, there are opportunities to develop your own skill set, personal brand and market yourself more effectively.

Competence isn’t enough. You have to ensure that people who matter know who you are, and how good you are, and want to take you with them. You need a positive and visible profile within the organisation and to ally yourself with those who can promote your career. Start the process soon - timescales for the changes are not set but it is best to be prepared ahead of the competition.

Think seriously about the people you know and the influence they wield - who has the potential to influence your career? Develop a strategy for strengthening your relationship with them. Build your profile, ensuring you are visible to those who matter, ally yourself with people who can help you, building relationships with those who have influence. It’s about being well connected and making sure your contribution is noticed. Be creative with this, new roles and new organisations are being created, so you may need to network with people outside your current sphere of influence.

Do some external networking so you know what is cutting edge for other organisations. To climb the career ladder with confidence you must appreciate the bigger picture, be able to distinguish between what’s really important and things that will have no real impact on the organisation’s bottom line. Be ready to spot and respond to opportunities. Seek assignments outside your area of expertise or normal job responsibilities - the wider your network the better.

What skills do you need to make yourself more marketable? Take advantage of every opportunity for continuous learning and professional development. Look for a competitive advantage. What are other professionals in your field offering? Can you differentiate yourself by offering something extra, different or unique?

Be scientific about it and conduct some self-analysis.

  • Stage 1 Set some targets. Where do you want to be? What would be your ideal role in the new NHS? If this is too much of a jump, what job do you realistically want (or need) to be doing? Write a description of what the ideal candidate for this role would look like.
  • Stage 2 Get a good understanding of yourself and your current situation. Where are you now? What skills have you got, both technical and behavioural? If you are unsure, seek feedback as we are often our own worst critic.
  • Stage 3 What is going to help you achieve the goal you have set yourself? Remember, this isn’t always just skill based. You may have to examine your behaviour and motivation.
  • Stage 4 Develop a plan to get you there. Work with someone you trust and ask them to hold you accountable.

Developing the skills to drive your career has never been so important. There is no point enviously looking back in two years at a colleague who has a more interesting and better paid job. Only you are in control of your career.

Most people spend more time planning their next holiday than they spend planning their next career move. Unless that lottery ticket comes through, you’re going to be continuing in a job of some sort - being able to enjoy it is the most crucial thing.

Get yourself noticed

  • Get a mentor - Find someone to act as a sounding board and bounce ideas off them
  • Have a goal - Work out where you would like to be. If you are unable to formulate your ideal goal, pick any goal, it is better to have some direction than none at all
  • Seek feedback - Those around you know you best - make sure they will be honest with you
  • Be creative - Don’t limit your skills analysis only to work - you may have a number of transferable skills from hobbies and interests
  • Network - Plot your network comparing strength of relationship and level of influence
  • Develop a plan - pull a written plan together with clear actions, goals and timescales