A man is fly-fishing in a stream. Another man walks across a bridge overhead and asks the fisherman whether he needs anything. “Well, I could use some more tippet,” the fisherman replies. The man on the bridge lowers a large rope. Puzzled, the fisherman says he has no use for this rope and again asks for tippet, explaining that it is the very fine fishing line used to tie the fly on. The man on the bridge disagrees. “No, you need this rope,” he says. Just as the fisherman is about to retort, he is suddenly knocked over by a wall of water.
I share this story because I think it illustrates two important points. First, perspective makes all the difference. Second, it is more important than ever to be a member of ASSE. As a leader in the occupational safety and health profession, ASSE is positioned to see far upstream. We are constantly looking ahead to identify potential future trends and future needs in order to deliver the products and services that will help you succeed. By being part of this forward-thinking organization and taking advantage of the many benefits it provides, you are preparing yourself for the inevitable changes and challenges that lie ahead.
Consider, for example, the continuing education events ASSE offers as part of its strategic goal to “deliver the highest quality professional development opportunities to enhance competence and position practitioners for success.” The Society offers an outstanding annual conference as well as a full range of high-quality seminars, symposia and webinars throughout the year. Many of these offerings are now being delivered in virtual format to help you control costs and reduce impacts to your employer. Through these events, you hone your strengths and build new skills. You also meet many other professionals and extend your network—which we all know can be a critical element in career advancement.
Given the current state of the economy, which finds many of us reevaluating our spending, you may be tempted to put off professional development. I urge you to look at it from a different perspective. Competition for jobs is more fierce than ever. With more applicants available, it is a buyer’s market. What will distinguish you from the many other candidates?
To be the most qualified candidate and to be ready when new opportunities emerge, you must continue to learn and expand your knowledge base. Approach your career strategically. Prioritize your spending for the greatest gains now and ready yourself to be in a strong position when the economy rebounds. Focus on keeping yourself marketable, skilled and poised to take a step forward when the opportunity arises. The professional who continuously advances his/her skills will have the edge in any economy.