Across all sectors of the job market we face peaks and troughs, periods of temporary and ever-moving challenges. This means having to rethink, create and explore different approaches and ways of working, alongside how we manage our own expectations. In order to better manage and navigate our way through our working life, we need to be better prepared and resilient, able to be more flexible and curious about opportunities that present themselves.
You own your career – companies don’t own it for you!
It can be worth reminding yourself that it is not the sole responsibility of your manager or organisation to ‘develop you’, or identify the next big thing that you’d be perfect for. Their agenda and business needs may not necessarily be aligned with where you want to be.
The ever-changing growth or decline of sectors and industries can influence the jobs and opportunities that are out there in the market place, but that doesn’t mean all recruitment stops.
If you are approaching career planning from a place of lack or scarcity, you are relinquishing any control. You need to manage your career, tend to it so it will grow and flourish. See it from a place of abundance of opportunities rather than a lack of them.
We spend so much time at work managing our endlessly full in-boxes and commitments, yet we rarely take time to pause and evaluate HOW we can improve and maximise our potential.
Embrace Curiosity and Chance
Planning is certainly an important element of career development, but it’s also recognising that chance plays a role. If you feel you’re too reliant on having a really detailed career plan, then consider another perspective. Planned Happenstance, a career theory developed by Professor John Krumboltz of Stanford University in 1999, is the view that you can create opportunities by taking action on your curiosity and on chance events that occur in your life. Be open-minded and curious enough to embrace those chance opportunities, such as unexpected phone calls, impromptu conversations and new experiences. Ask yourself ‘what if…’
Create your own opportunities
So, if things don’t go to plan, then you look for or create new opportunities. The constant striving for finding the ‘perfect job’ and the ‘right time’ can also serve to remind us that how you get a job is not a one size fits all. If the right mix of role, company, location and package are not coming together for you, then you need to think differently.
A good starting point is to identify what may be possible within your current role or company. Who could you reach out to about this – your line manager, a trusted colleague or peer? Sometimes, however, the finance and scope of opportunities aren’t always there, so be prepared that you may need to invest your own time or money outside of work to get the personal and professional development you seek. If so:
- How much time are you prepared to commit to this?
- What potential opportunities could result from this?
- What would be the possible consequence of not developing yourself?
A few more ideas to consider:
- Mentoring – either be a Mentor for others or benefit from being mentored yourself
- Community or voluntary work
- Work shadowing
- Attend conferences, webinars, events
- Surround yourself with like-minded positive people and improve your networks – LinkedIn, groups, speak to people doing the job you want to do…
- Are you a member of a professional body/trade association? If yes, make more of the services they provide, and if you’re not, investigate what opportunities they could give you
- Short training courses or workshops
- Professional qualifications
- Ask your line manager if you could be involved in different projects or sit in on meetings to get some insight
- Join steering groups/committees
- Identify if you can solve a particular type of problem within your industry and focus on becoming a specialist/subject-matter expert in your field
- Write! Contribute to blogs, the company newsletter, volunteer to write an article…
I hope some of the above ideas have made you curious to explore more. See what happens when you start taking ownership for your career and personal development. The more chances you explore in your career, the more opportunities you are going to have to create the life you want to live and increase your chances of landing a job you really like.
Working with a Career Coach to explore what it is you’re looking to create and how to get there may be a great starting point for you. Do reach out for a free telephone consultation if you’d like to explore how career coaching or mentoring can really help you make the progress you’re looking for!