5 steps to a sustainable career

By Robert Half on 31/03/2021

Sustainable careers don’t just benefit employees, they are also the driving force behind a thriving economy and society. Experts agree on this. But what exactly is a sustainable career? And what can you yourself do to develop a sustainable career?

What is a sustainable career?

A sustainable career implies that an employee can adapt to the changing job market and keep performing in the long run. That way, they help their employer and the government to remain competitive in an unpredictable and rapidly changing reality.

How to develop a sustainable career

You can develop a sustainable career by focusing on five components:

1. Create a bond of trust

Having an environment of open communication and trust between employee and employer is the perfect basis for a sustainable career. So don’t be afraid to enter into a dialogue with your manager, dare to raise issues and make your expectations clear. Always do so in a professional manner and be receptive to feedback.

2. Improve your employability

‘Employability’ refers to the extent to which your current employer can use you or the extent to which you could quickly find a new job. On the one hand, this has to do with your attitude towards lifelong learning: reskilling and upskilling are essential if you want to develop a sustainable career. Because our job market is experiencing a major transition. On the other hand, high adaptability or AQ is also crucial if you want to remain employable in the long term. How do you react to unexpected circumstances? Are you problem- or solution-oriented? How creative are the solutions you come up with?

3. Performing well

Of course, anyone wishing to retain long-term relevance within their organisation or on the job market should perform well. This also requires keeping skills and knowledge up to date. This also includes soft skills like leadership, communication skills and determination. Employees who combine soft and hard skills are high on any modern employer’s wish list.

4. Work-life balance

Make no mistake, developing a sustainable career does not mean only concentrating on work. Only people who regularly relax and make time for family and friends can keep performing well at work in the long term. So don’t forget to occasionally hit the pause button.

5. Health

Physical and mental health are the cornerstones of a sustainable and high-performance career. Taking care of your health is the only way to cope with today’s demanding work environment. Be sure to eat healthily and take enough exercise. Allow enough moments of rest to completely clear your head.

Anyone who can incorporate these four elements into their working life the long term is assured of a sustainable career.

Shared responsibility

Remember: developing a sustainable career is not just your responsibility. The authorities and your employer should create the appropriate framework for it. This is also to their advantage, as your sustainable career increases their competitiveness. For instance, the government has to invest in lifelong learning and development opportunities for its citizens. It should also implement worker protection legislation, set up support mechanisms and provide proper healthcare.

Likewise, employers should offer their employees opportunities for growth and support in dealing with personal problems. Employers also have a duty to ensure a healthy work-life balance. You can read more about the latter here.

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