By Brenda Asiimwe
IN an increasingly technology-driven economy, widespread restructuring and job cuts in the private sector, plus an increasingly competitive job market, one needs to stay relevant, competent and remain afloat.
Even if you have established good relations with your employers and fellow employees, you are the boss of your career.
Do not assume that your company will train you to keep your skills up to date.
In many cases, it is difficult to grow professionally and keep your skills up to date without taking a job at another company sooner or later.
In this job environment, it is difficult for most people to stay more than six years at any one company.
This is because even if one wanted to stay more than six years, most companies do not seem to last in their current arrangements for six years.
There are cases of mergers, acquisitions, product sell-offs, technology changes and financial tremours which might abruptly cause an otherwise happy employee to suddenly be jobless.
How can one keep relevant amid all this?
Charles Ocici, the Enterprise Uganda executive director, argues that one has to have the zeal to keep learning.
He says one should never be contented with just academic papers.
It is important to always listen to what your colleagues are doing at other companies in your industry and to be aware of what might be happening to them, sometimes headhunters also can give some insight into industry trends in your field, Ocici says
â€œIt is typical to find one plunged in oneâ€™s daily work to the point that there is never time to chat with old classmates and to attend industry conferences and professional organisation meetings.
But these extracurricular gatherings might be the best way to hear specifics about industry changes that could be affecting your career,â€ Ocici explains.
He adds that people should know that being employed to do a certain job does not mean it is all they can do.
He emphasises that people should see every job as a platform for them to excel, be marketable and to see beyond their current employer.
He cites the example of startup firms, which due to lack of resources, use one person to handle several managerial or technical tasks, making the person multi-purposed.
Ocici says that because that culture has crept into multinational companies, it is common to see people with multi-disciplinary experiences or training.
However, Harrison Kigundu, the Quality Chemicals human resource manager, argues that for one to stay relevant in the job market, they need to be flexible in growing their talents.
He explains that an employee could request their employer to allocate them new challenges or assignments that could help them gain valuable experience and exposure.
Sometimes you might need modern equipment, instruments, or software that might keep your skills relevant and your marketability high, Kigundu says.
â€œFurther training or studies could be valuable to keep skills fresh.
Most times, simply being around people who know more than you, or whose professional depth compliments you and can help keep you at your best,â€ he says.
Ocici says no company can remain aloof forever to world trends.
He adds that your company might value you tremendously but your specialty on the job training and exposures might limit your career opportunities.
Kigundu argues that in many firms, technical people who become heads of sales and marketing are often prime candidates for higher jobs such as being chief executive officers (CEOs).
In most firms, the resumes of CEOs belong to people who are multi-disciplinary in their education, work experience or job titles, he adds
â€œIt is important to keep some sort of perspective on reality and to also know that it is also possible to become multidisciplinary with so many varied experiences, but with thin capabilities in each, thus being considered less desired in the job market,â€ Ocici says.
He adds that more is not always better, but quality is what really counts.
Kigundu advises that it is always good to keep your resume up to date to be eligible for superior career opportunities at better firms even if you have a job.
He adds that the nastiest time to look for a new job is when your are jobless.
Ocici says your employer should be scared of losing you, but not you sacred of losing your job.
He says the mistake most employees do is clinging and overly protecting their jobs instead of advancing themselves, thus making them susceptible to circumstances.