Best piece of career advice? Get the basics right
There’s no doubting it, I’m a realist. I hear stories from many clients and recruitment contacts about their experiences in the current job market and I know it’s tough. But I am a realist with an optimistic streak. I don’t have my head in the clouds, but I do strongly believe that if we really want something we can work hard to achieve it – no matter the economic climate.
Developing a better career or working towards gaining a new role certainly fits into that category. But unfortunately many people don’t focus on the right things to make a difference. Through my years of commercial roles, headhunting and career coaching I have realised that those who successfully achieve their goals get the basics right. The fads come and go – the essentials remain, slowly evolving.
So the best career advice?.........Get the basics right.
1. Know yourself
Self-awareness. How often do we honestly sit down and think about ourselves. It’s usually supporting family, friends or colleagues with their issues or interests.
When was the last time you truly reflected on what you are great at; how you really add value at work; why others respond to you in a certain way? To move forwards you must understand who you are. Learn how to articulate your strengths, values, motivators and career or life decisions.
2. Know what you want.
Easier said than done, but again, you must take some time to plan. In business you wouldn’t set off on a growth plan without a strategy, so why do so many ignore this activity in their career planning? Knowing yourself will enlighten you to what roles, sectors or work styles may suit. Look at the options; get excited and put a plan in place to drive towards that end goal.
3. The right contacts
We go through the years meeting many people. Some may come in very useful now, or some time in the future. As c70% of roles or promotions are currently filled through referral, nurturing your network is essential. Maintain contact with as many as you can, using LinkedIn or similar tools, but be sure to offer as much advice as you seek. Good networkers ‘give’ a lot to their contacts and favours are then returned. Make sure you attend the right events to keep growing your contact pool.
4. Build the right reputation
What are you known for within your business? Are you comfortable that this is appropriate and can be career enhancing? What else could you do to internally raise your profile? Are you putting yourself forward for visible projects and are you pushing your comfort zone?
Externally, are you someone who others would like to get to meet? Create your own positive profile by seeking speaking opportunities, contributing to industry or functional debates, building a useful network group to share ideas or solve problems. Have an opinion – it doesn’t have to be radical but fresh thinking is always warmly received.
5. Take action
The world is moving fast and we have to be active to keep up. We have to take accountability for our own future, so waiting for things to happen is denying that responsibility. Define your own ambition and be courageous – take the first step towards carving your own success.
Be mindful of others of course, but this is about you. Only you can make this happen, whether by giant leaps or small steps. Finally make it fun – you will be far more motivated if you can work through this journey with a smile on your face, so at your planning stage be sure to add a spoonful of enjoyment.
Developing your career has to be a conscious activity and it can be tough to do it alone. Consider finding a professional career coach who enjoys working through the journey with you, offering challenge and constructive thought on which you can build your ideas.