AS THE year-end approaches, it is time for you to take stock of what you have achieved this year, and also to start thinking about your goals for next year.

The Singapore economy has been experiencing positive growth for a number of quarters already, and as of now, it looks like it will close the year well, and even see continued economic growth in the new year.

Precisely because of this, the job market has been relatively vibrant and recruiters and headhunters have been kept busy with moving talent around the many companies that have experienced natural attrition.

One of the most fundamental, but often neglected, activities that you should be doing is to proactively take charge of your career, and be conscious of activities that enhance your employability. These days, a job is said to be an illusion — here today, gone tomorrow. Hence, it is much more important to maintain your employability than to be contended with having a job.

Here are some key steps that you can take:

Have a vision statement

Most companies have a vision and mission statement that provides the CEO with a strategic direction in which to lead the company. It is also important and necessary for you to have your own vision statement.

Ask yourself: “Where am I going in my life, and my career?” Once you are clear about this, it will allow you to make life and career-impacting decisions.

Do remember to re-visit this vision on a periodic basis. Given the many uncertainties in life, there may be a need to update or modify your vision statement to reflect your current situation.

Take a career snapshot

Perform an annual review of your career experience, noting down transferable knowledge and skills. Break down the skills into three categories:

* Functional: finance, HR, engineering, technical and so on

* Soft skills: leadership, communication, listening, negotiation, etc

* People/life-skills: Emotional intelligence (EQ) and adversity quotient.

These skills are important because they are the key reasons why companies would want you on the team. Using this audit, and with a clear life and career vision, you can then consciously work towards closing whatever gaps there may be. This allows you to proactively take charge of your career and your life.

Network regularly

Build and nurture your network of contacts, both within and outside your company. Networking is such an important activity — and this is a key point that bears repeating — it is not something that you do as and when you have the time.

It is an activity that you build into your lifestyle as soon as you old enough to have friends. Life does present many priorities that fight for the finite time that you have in a day, but networking has proved time and again to be the most effective means of securing job leads, and is definitely helpful in managing your career. 

Invest in training

We live in a knowledge-based economy, and knowledge is power — in a positive sense. While most companies have a training and development budget, the fact of the matter is that not everyone can benefit from the use of this budget. It is allocated based on set criteria, and you may be interested in upgrading your skills in an area that is not covered by the budget.

So be prepared to invest in your own development. Spending part of your salary and bonus on training and development is not an expense, it is an investment in your career development.

Read widely. A lot of leaders I coach fail to do this, for a myriad of reasons, the most common being “no time”. If you agree this is important, make the time. Reading provides you with the “food” of knowledge.

Learn leadership skills

As you move up the organisational ladder, your leadership skills become much more important as you will be required to lead less experienced colleagues.

Some companies, but not all, have in-house programmes that equip would-be leaders with basic leadership skills. If not, you will have to find other avenues for such training. Sharpening your leadership saw will give you the edge you need to engage and motivate your people to achieve organisational goals — a key to your continued success.