Creating Your Ideal Career
“The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them.”– George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright
Meet Jack; a talented professional who’s been with his organization for several years. Although Jack’s good at his job, he’s never given much thought to what he’d like to achieve with his career.
And, because he hasn’t taken the time to define his dreams, or to come up with a strategy to realize them, he frequently misses key opportunities. If he’d taken advantage of these, he would have been promoted several times over the years.
Jack’s actually still in the same role he was originally hired for. He’s moderately happy on the surface, but he knows that, deep down, he could be achieving much more.
Does this sound like a career you’d like to have?
Chances are, you want to work in a role that’s fun, challenging and fulfilling; and that also pushes you to achieve your full potential. The good news is that there may be plenty of opportunities available to you in your current role. All you need to do is identify them, and create a strategy to get to where you want to go.
In this article, we’ll outline a common-sense approach that you can use to think about how to reach your full potential in your career.
Your Strengths, Weaknesses, Motivators, and Values
Developing a career strategy is like constructing a building. You have to start with a solid foundation and, bit by bit, work your way towards the top.
Before you do anything else, you need to analyze your strengths and weaknesses, as well as understanding your values and what motivates you.
So, start by looking at your strengths and weaknesses. What do you excel at in the role you’re in now? And, what skills have allowed you to shine in previous roles? Conversely, what are your weakest skills, or the tasks you find most difficult?
Remember, strengths and weaknesses aren’t always obvious. For instance, you might be great at creating harmony in a group; you might be very good at winning others over to your side; or, you might have a talent for inspiring people to go along with a new initiative. These are all strengths!
Know Your Comparative Advantage
Once you have a good idea of your strengths and motivators, you need to identify your comparative advantage. This is something that you can do uniquely well, compared with the people around you; a strength, skill set, or quality unique to you that will add value to your organization.
It’s important to know your comparative advantage because using this trait or skill will help you succeed in your career. Remember, your comparative advantage isn’t always what you do best; it’s something you’re better at than anyone else, and that fills a niche in your company.
If you’re struggling to discover your own comparative advantage, think back to the last few performance reviews you’ve had. Has your boss praised or commended you for particular skills, traits, or successes on a consistent basis? If so, this might offer some clues as to your comparative advantage.
You can also look back at the strengths you identified in step 1, and ask colleagues, clients, or even friends for their input.
Professional networking is an important aspect of creating a career strategy. After all, people can only help you if they know about you, which is why you need to get to know the people who can help you achieve your goals.
Remember, you can network with colleagues in different departments, as well as suppliers and professionals in other organizations or industries. You can also network using tools such as Twitter and LinkedIn .
So, plan the networking needed to do to take advantage of your opportunities, and keep in mind that networking works both ways: you’ll get the biggest benefit if you try to help others too.