The Value of Getting Comfortable with Career Uncertainty

The Value of Getting Comfortable with Career Uncertainty

By: Jason Montgomery, Human Resources Business Partner

In my role in human resources, when I talk about career development with a colleague, one of the first things I bring up is uncertainty. Why start with that? Because being comfortable with career uncertainty positions you for comfort in career experimentation and personal growth. You can allow yourself to explore and position yourself for opportunities that will stretch you personally and professionally. 

 

The important thing to remember about uncertainty, however, is that there is always something that you can control. There is also always something you can do to create clarity in times of uncertainty. We all have a North Star, but the journey to that North Star will always be uncertain, no matter how hard you plan.

 

My career has been nothing but uncertain, but one aspect of my career journey remains consistent: I took on opportunities that would give me a skill or growth opportunity that I knew I needed to reach my North Star.  

Probably the biggest moment of uncertainty that I faced came when, after almost a year and half with the company, I had the opportunity to apply for the HR International Assignment Program. I had to decide if I was comfortable with the uncertainty of not knowing where across the world I was going, and not knowing what the assignment would be until I was selected. As a bi-racial gay male, you could imagine I had some concerns for myself and my partner; specifically, what country we would be assigned too. 

When I talk with colleagues about managing their professional identity, I pose key questions to everyone: How do you make yourself memorable? What do you want people to know you by?

Ultimately, I was in Munich for 18 months as a People & Leadership Strategy Consultant, and it was a challenging, uncertain and rewarding time in my Siemens career. The experience taught me that personal factors have a lot to do about why a person does or does not take a role, and there are always personal reasons for someone not to take the next opportunity, and those reasons are valid and need to be considered. Your career is your choice. Engage in self-reflection and always do what is best for yourself at that point in time. 

 

Self-reflection is key to allyship, too. As the Siemens USA National PRIDE@SIEMENS Chair, I know how important allies are for the LGBT+ community in Siemens and at large. While the initial steps in becoming an ally can involve some uncertainty, you can do a lot to control your process. If you are not LGBT+, make it known that you’re an ally—reach out to PRIDE resource group or attend a PRIDE event. Call out instances of homophobia and transphobia in the workplace and be aware how much impact language has on diverse communities. And as an affirmation to yourself, learn to see that all love is equal and that all individuals deserve love—that’s really one of the first steps to becoming an ally.

 

Diversity & Inclusion topics can be full of uncertainty and complexity for many people. However, this is all about positive growth and change—and taking control of your part in it. Nothing changes if you don’t act.

 

The same goes for your career and, specifically, how people think of you. When I talk with colleagues about managing their professional identity, I pose key questions to everyone: How do you make yourself memorable? What do you want people to know you by? Imagine your retirement party, at the end of your career, and someone is reading your career history. What did you achieve? How did you make people feel? How are you remembered? Your brand turns out to be your legacy. 

 

Published: August 10, 2020