Recently, I got the opportunity to work with, Nick Smith, a fascinating client, in fact, one of the most intelligent and talented professionals I have ever met. Yet, despite the abundance of natural talent, Nick was unemployed for a very long time -- the few jobs he managed to find did not last very long. After a series of setbacks, he knew something was wrong but couldn’t unravel the mystery cause that was foiling his career goals repeatedly.

During one of our coaching sessions, we finally hit the life-changing eureka moment, not just for Smith, but for the many who are guilty of the same [professional] crime: knowledge stagnation. In his career spanning over two decades, Nick had paid very little attention to his professional skills and expertise. He was so focused on the work he was doing, he rarely paid attention to the changes that were shaking the very foundations of his chosen profession, a bitter truth that came to his attention after his long-time employer closed operations.

Envision the future: think growth, think cutting-edge.
Avid business readers may be aware of the case of the word processor giant. The company had invested billions of dollars into its word processing product, but had made the fatal mistake of underestimating the impact of personal computers. Much to the manufacturer’s disappointment, the product was rendered obsolete when PCs became accessible to common consumers.

Since we work with the same employer for a number of years, it is too easy to close our eyes to what is happening around us and think “I am doing my job well; I am never going to need that new innovation.”

In my past articles, I have always emphasized on the fact that “you are in charge of your career, not your employer.” Set aside a professional development budget and ask yourself “what professional competencies will be in demand a few years from now?” Use this information to create your annual professional development and training plan.

The tools
Books, e-groups, newsletters, professional associations, conferences, seminars, webinars, training programs, graduate degrees, peers, competitors -- opportunities exist in abundance.

Do I practice before I preach?
It may come as a surprise to many, but even to this day, I spend the first hour of my work reading over a dozen professional newsletters, articles, and books that make their way to my desk. In addition to professional reading, I regularly interact with peers, participate in numerous webinars and training programs, contribute toward more learning and networking groups that I can count, and maintain membership in key professional associations. In addition to the theoretical learning, I regularly float my own résumé in the market and attend interviews to keep up with what is happening.

The truth is that we are knowledge workers in this Information Age, an age where knowledge becomes obsolete faster than fashion. Not keeping up is like building a house with cards; the slightest breeze of change or innovation can shatter the construction to pieces.

Staying current is the ideal way to build a successful career -- and the best hedge against uncertainty.

Author's Bio: 

Nimish Thakkar is a sought-after career management coach and professional resume writer. He has helped thousands of clients through his professional resume writing service, http://www.ResumeCorner.com and through his free career information site, http://www.SaiCareers.com. Thakkar holds two graduate degrees, including an MBA.