When people discuss career success what do they usually mean? Frequently the populist view is that someone has achieved one or all of the following: done something memorable; earned a lot of money; gained significant seniority and/or status during the course of their career. This is especially so when people are describing the careers of others, as it is the visible manifestations of the career which are assessed.
Firstly let’s examine the word success. The Oxford Dictionary has its primary meaning of success as “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose”. So looking at this meaning whatever our career goal is, when we achieve it we have been successful. However, that is dependent on having a goal to work to. The reality is often that most people have clearer goals about their next holiday or mobile phone than they do about their next career steps.
So, is this important?
It could be said that having career goals are limiting and prevents people taking advantage of opportunities which may arise along the way. Not so. As Henry Ford said “Luck is where preparation meets opportunity”. When you have clear goals it leaves room for discretion in how you arrive at them. Most importantly they enable your focus and energy to move in a clearly defined direction and therefore have more of an impact. There are many examples of people taking a scattergun approach, which dilutes the energy and direction of travel. As the old saying goes “if you don’t know where you are going, you are liable to end up some place else”.
What must I do to achieve career success?
The most important thing is to be clear about what is important to you, your work values and then to identify what your natural strengths are. Career goals need to be in line with who you are and what you do well. We can all be trapped by other people’s career dogma and the imposition of the phrase ‘What you should do…” which all works towards limiting your career options. So being clear about knowing yourself is the first step to career success.
Five Steps for Career Success
1. Know yourself; your work values, your strengths and your interests
2. Define your career goals and, most importantly, write them down
3. Know how to approach the job market or self employment which you have decided on: research through reading and asking relevant people for advice
4. Know whom can support you in your job search and career development by identifying the right network opportunities
5. Review your progress against your goals regularly and identify next steps and/or amendments to your goals.
By Gill Amos
With the daily assault of data, emails and information delivered at a rapid rate and requiring an equally rapid response, plus social trivia from facebook, snapchat and instagram, how many of us are remembering to focus on the longer term important issues concerning our career? It is frequently reported that most people will spend more time considering their next holiday or purchase of new electronic devices than they will planning their career. It is also worth considering that ‘good luck’ is often about where preparation meets opportunity so some career planning and preparation is needed if you want to be lucky!
The questionnaire below should help you to assess where exactly you fit in the career smart scale.
Rate yourself against each statement.
Scale of 1 – 5 with 1 being NO and 5 being YES I have done this thoroughly
How far have you……………? 1 2 3 4 5
1. Knowing Yourself
Values What is most important to you
a) in your life b) your career
Goals Have you considered what you want to achieve in the next five years? (life and career)
Skills Are you aware of the skills you enjoy using the most and the ones which need developing?
Interest How clear are you about what type of environment interests you?
Location Have you thought about where you want to be located in 3 – 5 years time?
2. Knowing Your Options
Awareness of options Are you aware of the various options which may be open to you?
Skills How clear are you about the type and levels of skill required for the next role you want?
Rewards Have you researched the reward and benefits you are likely to get in the roles which interest you?
Team Culture Can you describe the type of team culture you would like to work in.
Career Plan Have you got plan for achieving your goals?
Possible hurdles Are you aware of what hurdles there may be in putting your career plan into action.
3. Knowing Your Brand
Your Brand Are you clear what your personal brand is?
4. Knowing Your Network
Networks Are you an active member of face to face networks?
Linkedin Have you got an up to date and complete linkedin profile?
Social media Do you contribute to online debates via linkedin or twitter etc?
Career supporters Have you got career supporters?
e.g. coach, mentor, buddy?
5. Knowing About Making Career Decisions
Owning decisions Are you able to make your own career decisions or do you prefer someone else to do it for you?
Making decisions Can you decide the direction you want to go in?
Process Do you have a systematic process for making decisions?
Commitment Are you committed to your plan?
Sub totals of each column
0 – 25
Very little career planning. Could use the questionnaire as a checklist to support career planning. On the upside you may be flexible and pragmatic.
26 – 50
Some planning and focus, perhaps a little too reliant on things coming up which you like the look of rather than targeting what you want. However an element of pragmatism is always useful!
Some clear effort made towards being career smart. The question is are you not doing some things through active choice because you want flexible or because you are not aware that they support your career?
76 – 100
Very career smart and focused
Possible weakness might find it difficult when an uncontrollable event derails your plan
By Gill Amos
As soon as this topic is mentioned many people think, ‘formal dress,` certainly a jacket at the very least! This was certainly the case 10-15 years ago, happily dress codes have changed and relaxed, however this leaves many in a clothing dilemma surrounding ‘smart/casual’ business wear! Many, though not all, do not understand what this entails and often ask ‘does it really matter?’
My answer to this is, how eager are you to earn more money? Get promoted faster? Find a new job, or simply just get noticed in the office rather than fade into the background. Many hours are spent honing their CV hoping to impress the reader and yet when it comes to the interview, few spend more than a couple of minutes considering what their visual impact should be!
James Caan of Dragon`s Den fame, was taught as a young recruiter that you look from the feet up to decide whether the person he was interviewing was a suitable candidate. Why should your shoes be so important? Well, you can tell a lot by how they are cared for! Dirty, worn, scruffy shoes may indicate a person who is not interested in detail and has no pride in themselves. This may seem harsh but contrast this to a pair of clean, shiny shoes, this is clearly someone has taken the trouble to make sure every last detail is covered off and could indicate at work you are happy to go the extra mile!
Some might dismiss this out of hand as being unimportant; however in this very competitive market place can you afford to leave any small detail to chance? Considering your personal brand is vital to make sure your image is congruent with the company you represent. You would not trust a solicitor wearing jeans and a t-shirt, equally would you wouldn’t want a receptionist greeting your clients chewing gum, wearing bright garish nails and spending all the time on her mobile phone!
If you would like to be ahead of the competition and be remembered for the right reasons, an hour`s image audit could make the difference between success and failure! At the very least, you will become more confident in your outward appearance which will pay dividends, not only in the work place but socially too!
by Jane Sumner
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