Will 2021 be the year of your career? Here’s how to get started
Instead of passively waiting for the perfect opportunity to find you, take full ownership of your career and lead the way yourself. We at Exparang have some advice that will place you in pole position.
1 Be where the action is — Basic networking starts with proximity or commonalities, which tend to result in breakfasts and casual coffees with our closest circle of colleagues and peers. But while on-the-job relationships are ever so important, it’s more likely the distant connections you haven’t yet explored that add the most new value. To find them you have to make yourself visible. Enhance your market presence by making a list of individuals, events, and platforms that could contribute to your development and where you can find an exchange of information. Importantly, when you connect with key people and headhunters who are linked to your ideal roles and companies be prepared to pitch your accomplishments, competencies, and ideas.
Make sure to have an updated profile on a reputable career platform. This is actually invaluable if you’re not a fan of introduction lunches and networking events but still want to proactively manage your career.
2Use your CV as a work diary — By making a habit of continuously updating your job storyline with metrics and summaries of key achievements you avoid scrambling and sell yourself short trying to reiterate your wins over the last couple of years when someone asks for your CV. This will not only save precious time when a recruiter reaches out, but you’re also prepared in case a promotion discussion comes up at work, a board or advisory role is pitched to you, or you’re asked to speak at a conference and have to provide a bio.
3 Learn new skills and grow interpersonal capital — A commitment to constant learning and strategically strengthening your soft skills throughout your work life is essential both for your professional and personal development. Start by identifying what core skills you possess, what your current profession requires, and what the future might demand, and try writing them down to more easily visualise potential skill gaps, risks and opportunities. For example, try to answer these questions:
- Which of my skills will stay in high demand?
- Which of my skills can be transferred between different roles, companies, and industries?
- What buzzwords do I hear from industry leaders and which of them should I prioritise learning more about?
- Have I received any feedback recently that I should work on?
- Do I identify myself more as a generalist or a specialist? Should I deepen that role or broaden it?
Take both hard and soft skills into account when doing this exercise. They are equally important but can differ vastly from each other when it comes to transferring between professions or companies. Don’t forget to keep a written track record of past and future learnings, it will support you in both interviews and on-the-job conversations.
4 Identify your values — It’s fascinating how most people agree that it’s nearly impossible to do great work in an environment that conflicts with our values but how very few of us can articulate what those core values actually are. Avoid unnecessary struggles and painful work situations by firstly identifying three to five values to carry with you when assessing a potential employer. You’ll find it easier to determine if you and a company share common ground on how to steer through decision-making and problem-solving if you are familiar with your value compass.
When you sign up to Exparang’s network you will go through a value map and rank the values that drives both your motivation and aspiration. The values serve as components throughout the matching process ensuring that the most relevant opportunities are being presented to you.
5 Be proactive, plan and mitigate — Planning and managing your career is ongoing work and not a one-time activity. You probably will (and you should) alter your plan many times so don’t wait around for the perfect final version to appear before you start executing on it. Once you somewhat identified and clarified your career vision, what values are driving you forward and what skill set you are looking to acquire, set actual goals and milestones on how to get there. Include people you’d like to meet, companies to investigate, networks to join, etc. If it looks overwhelming, break it down into smaller pieces to make it more tangible.
When mapping all the optimistic scenarios you’d like to achieve it’s easy to forget about risks that could threaten your plan. If you aspire to be promoted within a year or selected chairperson on a board, what could keep you from reaching that goal? Obviously, you can’t defend against all threats but just the awareness will automatically keep you on your toes. If your career plan has taken potential disruptions into account, you come prepared and are more likely to solve problems before they occur.
2021 isn’t by any means the only year of your career, it’s a takeoff. Your career is a long-term investment where you are the single most important stakeholder. Committing to yourself, being proactive, taking actions that will bring you closer to your goal, and re-evaluating your plan regularly will generate a guaranteed pay off. Because needless to say, people generally don’t reach success by being passive.
Hedvig Öster — Talent & Communication Advisor at Exparang