See Need Want: Answers to Career Questions - Michelle Gibbings
In this article, Michelle shares her advice on career change, up-skilling, stress management and why multi-tasking is a big no-no.

Michelle Gibbings is a change leadership and career expert and founder of Change Meridian. She works with global leaders and teams to help them get fit for the future of work. She is also the Author of Step Up: How to Build Your Influence at Work and Career Leap: How to Reinvent and Liberate your Career.

In the second part of our career series, Michelle shares her advice on change and how to best use your skills, stay relevant and be stress-free in an ever-changing working world.

What’s your advice for those looking for a career change?

Know your value proposition. Everyone brings certain skills, competencies and ways of operating to the work they do. It’s essential to be able to clearly articulate that value and how you can help an organisation, business or client achieve their objectives. 

Many jobs are unadvertised, so networking is crucial not just to land a new job, but also to help you identify what roles are available. Meeting new people will also help expand your mindset in terms of what’s possible, how the world of work is changing and what new opportunities are opening up.

What’s the best way to use the skills you have for a different role/ career path?

Firstly, you need to understand the skills you have. Identify your skill set – covering technical, functional and behavioural, along with key competencies. 

Then, for each of them identify which are transferable, replaceable and adaptable: 

  • Transferable – directly applicable in another industry or occupation
  • Adaptable – usable in another industry or occupation once they have been modified in some way
  • Replaceable – likely to be industry or occupation specific, and therefore not as useful when leaping to another career

Once you’ve identified those elements you then need to consider how they relate to the job you are interested in moving to. 

That is, the skills and competencies you need to have, versus what you currently have. Looking at any identified gaps, then determine the activities and courses you can undertake to close the gap, and what you would prioritise. This may include: books to read, courses to enrol in, journals to subscribe to, new people to meet and new practices to perfect.

What are the best steps to take when your industry is changing rapidly – I.e. print, and you’re not sure how much longer you will have a job?

The reality is we are all going to need to get more comfortable with career change and career reinvention.

A key part of this is elevating your awareness of what is happening around you, in terms of how your role, profession, industry and sector is changing. Awareness is about raising your consciousness. The more conscious you are of what is going on around you, the more you are able to be open, and over time, accepting of it so you can plan ahead and take action. 

Ignoring the change isn’t going to make it go away. When you’re alert, present and open to the changes you can then take the necessary steps to put yourself in the best possible position to thrive through the change.

How do you maintain relevance?

To maintain relevance you need to see yourself as the leader of your career, which means you invest time, energy and resources in to managing it and making it work for you. 

People who lead their career: 

  • Take time to actively plan their career. They set aside time to reflect on the goals they want to achieve, progress made and key next steps
  • Don’t wait for the organisation they work for to develop them. They see learning as crucial to future success and therefore constantly seek out new ideas and ways to stretch themselves
  • Have a deep and broad network which they are keen to continue to nourish and expand
  • See the acquisition of deep self-understanding and emotional intelligence as important as their technical skills
What are your best tips for upskilling?

To fall in love with learning. 

People learn most rapidly when the learning is relevant to them, and when they take responsibility for their own learning. 

Every year I sit down and plan out my learning agenda for the year. It will be a mixture of activities that are cerebral and practical. The learning will be both broad and deep. 

Ask yourself: 

  • Have I got a clear understanding of my core competencies and strengths?
  • Do I strategically consider how and where to invest time and learning to continue to build strengths and capabilities?
  • Am I devoting enough time, energy and resources into continually upskilling?
  • Do I know what skills I need to acquire or develop?

If you’re not able to answer those questions you may be not be securing the best outcomes for your learning efforts.

What is your advice on multitasking to entrepreneurs who juggle multiple businesses?

Don’t do it! 

When you multi-task your attention is split, and as you switch from one activity to another you lose concentration and ultimately become less productive. 

If you are sitting in a meeting and typing an email (or reading this article) you won’t be fully concentrating on what is being said. At the same time, each time you switch from one task to another your brain loses focus and then has to refocus, using up precious resources. 

The brain isn’t hard wired to handle multiple issues simultaneously or to rapidly switch back and forward between tasks. Research shows that a person’s productivity dips by as much as 25% as they switch backwards and forwards between competing tasks. 

Highly productive people time-box their work day and ruthlessly manage their schedule.

What are your top stress-management tips?

1. Be more mindful – take the time to stop, breath, reflect and then respond to the event which caused the stress, rather than react to it 

2. Search for options – when you are faced with an unwelcome situation work through the options and what decisions you can and can’t make. Feeling like you have a choice as to your response puts you in a more positive state 

3. Accept what you can’t change – we can’t control or influence everything, so be clear on what you can’t control and focus your energy on what you can control and influence 

4. Adopt a gratitude mantra – expressing gratitude is scientifically proven to help you feel happier and it works with resilience too 

5. Help others – helping others in need helps you realise the positive forces in your life and is a key part of leading a happy and healthy life 

6. Be curious and have an open mind – investigating issues through multiple lenses helps you see things from different perspectives. This, in turn, helps you realise that your view of the event may be negatively skewed 

7. Strive to find purpose in your life – people with purpose are happier and more resilient as they are clear about their goals and where they are heading in life 

8. Maintain strong connections with friends and family – sharing how you feel, talking to people and being open about how you feel is healthy and good for the soul 

9. Manage stress – meditating, exercising, eating well and laughing will all help get you out of your bad day funk 

10. Learn from your mistakes – viewing mistakes as an opportunity to experiment, learn and grow, rather than viewing them as a failure. This includes recognising that you are a not failure, you just happened to not succeed on this occasion.