THE battle to remain employed has been lost - the new battle is to remain employable.
Welcome to the brave new world of the 21st century. All around us, the old certainties are fast disappearing to be replaced by the new, the unknown and the uncertain.
Consider some of the paradoxes. The economy is changing. The iron rice bowl is no more. Jobs for life have gone.
Unskilled, low value-added jobs are fast-disappearing. Full-time jobs are being replaced by contract or part-time work.
We are rapidly transforming into a knowledge-based economy driven by information technology, research and development and the provision of advanced services.
Organisations are changing. They are flatter, leaner and more flexible, having to respond to the changing environment, customers and clients faster.
Fewer people are being employed; and they have to work harder, faster, smarter and be multi-skilled and creative with a new, more open mindset.
The market is changing. Consumers are older and wiser, demanding sophisticated value-added products and services.
If you cannot deliver a better product or service at a cheaper price in a fast-changing market place, your competitor will!
Aim to be employable
There is no such thing as a career path any more. It is crazy paving, and you lay it yourself.
The old employment paradigm has shifted forever.
In the past, organisations were paternalistic, offered job security, had defined career paths, practised succession planning and had focused job descriptions and titles with narrow and specific responsibilities and clear reporting lines.
The new organisational reality is very different.
The company is no longer responsible for your job security. No employer anywhere, in any organisation, can guarantee you a job.
The old psychological employment contract has been replaced by a looser, less structured working relationship. The emphasis is on employability, not employment.
Careers must be self-directed and highly flexible.
You have to take more responsibility for your own development by building a portfolio of skills and talents, being capable of switching roles rapidly and multitasking with ease.
Career resilience is the new mantra of our times. Be responsible for yourself, adopting a "self-employed" mentality even if you are working for a large organisation.
Knowledge is the new currency of business, and lifelong learning is no longer an option, it has become mandatory for survival.
Invest in yourself
As an employee, you must know the skills you have and how these skills can be marketed to other employers.
Continually update and upgrade your skills and be aware of new roles you may be required to fill.
Develop skills aligned to business needs, an attitude that is focused yet flexible and a dedication to continuous learning and personal excellence.
Deliver a solid performance in support of your organisation's goals.
It is vital that you discover, or rediscover, yourself through self-awareness. Understand your personality and work style, what drives you and what your preferences are in a work situation.
Invest in yourself through developing an understanding of your work behaviour.
Complete a proven personality-profiling tool such as Disc or Myers-Briggs and reflect on the feedback.
Be aware of the key characteristics of employability and what employers value in the people they hire and promote.
There is a new emphasis on effective communication and interpersonal skills, with a growing awareness of the need for EQ (emotional quotient) as well as IQ.
Good teamwork is required from people with positive and flexible attitudes.
There is a growing demand for problem-solving, creative and innovative thinking skills, with an increased willingness to take risks.
Continuous learning is a necessity together with a commitment to personal excellence.
And if you are developing a managerial career, do be aware of the new managerial realities. You need to become a coach - to nurture and develop the skills and abilities of your staff.
Learn to delegate and empower, manage transition and change, and develop managerial leadership based on influence, not power.