It’s thought that over our lifetimes we will spend about 90,000 hours at work. Just think about that for a moment! That’s about a third of our lives. So it’s absolutely reasonable to want your job to be more than a paycheck, instead, a role that excites, inspires and energises you. What that means for everyone will be different.
Having worked with thousands of clients over my 28 years in careers guidance, there are some golden threads that will lead you to actually enjoy those 90,000 hours you spend at work. These keys to career success are important to know at the beginning of your career and at every point along the way right until the end.
Graduates can really struggle. They’ve gone through the pipeline of education only to be thrown into the big wide world of work without much of an idea of how to start successful careers. If I’ve just described you, you might find my 16-page Workbook “Where is My Career Going?” helpful. Getting your first job in an industry you care about can be scary, overwhelming, frustrating and leave you feeling hopeless.
I’m here to help! So here’s what I wish graduates – and everyone – knew about getting a job.
Own your strengths
When it comes to developing your career route, you’ve probably been asked about your skills. You’ll think about your qualifications and experience and let that determine your next job. You’re doing yourself a disservice. Just doing what you can do doesn’t guarantee you a happy career.
What creates career fulfilment is doing what you can do and what energises you. Those are your strengths. People who lean into their strengths at work are happier, more confident and effective, and less stressed because by knowing their strengths, they can make career decisions that align with them.
The best way to find your strengths, whether you’re already making a list of them in your head or can’t think of what you’re good at and like, is to do a Strengths Profile assessment. It will categorise 60 potential strengths across 4 areas:
- Your realised strengths – which are the skills you already use quite a bit and enjoy
- Your unrealised strengths – which are skills you have and like but don’t use as much
- Your learned behaviours – which are skills you have but don’t particularly like using
- Your weaknesses – which are things you struggle with and really don’t enjoy
I can help debrief your strengths profile so you know how to use the insights to inform your career decisions.
Own your motivation
During that period of time when you’ve recently left education and you’re trying to kickstart your career, the motivation that comes to mind is getting your foot in the door and money in your bank account. Having a job that can pay the bills is important. But that won’t sustain you over your 40-year-ish working life.
If you’re not motivated to do your job, it won’t be long until you feel disengaged and get burnt out. So if you’re serious about building a career that sustains you financially and personally, it’s essential to know your motivations and how they can connect to potential job roles. If you do a Motivational Maps assessment, you’ll figure out where you stand on the 9 workplace motivators across 3 main categories:
- Relationship motivators – these inform the relational aspect of our work life such as recognition or belonging
- Achievement motivators – which describe what powers us to progress at work such as money or knowledge-building
- Growth motivators – which is what we want to personally get out of our work life such as freedom or creative expression
Just like your Strengths Profile, I can help you decode your Motivational Map and what it means for your career, now and in the future.
Make it easy for your interviewers
By looking at your strengths and motivations, you can figure out what kind of role would perfectly suit you. But then you actually have to get the job. That’s a whole obstacle course in itself! I can reassure you that it doesn’t have to be as scary as it seems.
When it comes to going through the job searching and interviewing process, what you need to do is make it easy for a potential employer to tell whether you’re a good fit for the job. That begins at the initial communication when you submit your CV and cover letter and continues all the way to when you respond to the job offer.
Here are some of my top tips for how to avoid fumbling the recruitment and interviewing process for your perfect job:
- Craft and demonstrate a really strong why. Have a compelling and company-specific reason for why you want the job which is supported by your tone of voice, body language and the overall energised impression you give.
- Go into detail without asking. Don’t leave it to the interviewer to coax information out of you. Do your best to show your capabilities and interest in every answer so they aren’t left with any doubt.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. It’s absolutely allowed and doesn’t reflect negatively on you in any way. It’s better to ask for clarification of what they’re asking of you than to misunderstand and give the wrong information.
I do a lot of interview coaching where I help people to get into ship shape for upcoming interviews whether it’s their first ever or their first in a number of years. So do reach out if this is a skill you think you could do with working on.
Invest in your career management skills
The best way to set yourself up for success is to invest in your career management skills. You will get further in the direction you want to go when you’re being proactive, not reactive. Keep an eye on opportunities. Learn how to best present yourself. Engage in personal development as evidence of your interest and ability. Especially at graduate level, you can’t walk into your dream job. But you can work your way to it if you’re intentional about your career development.
Career management is an area a lot of people need help with because careers guidance is inconsistent across educational institutions and workplaces. That’s why I do what I do. By sharing my know-how on how to get jobs, progress in them, navigate career transitions and retire happily, I give my clients the confidence and career management skills they need to get where they want to go.
With so much of our lives spent at work and jobs holding so much potential for professional and personal fulfilment, it’s important. Book a free consultation with me if anything I’ve mentioned has flagged some areas you need to work on to progress in your career.
Always remember, everything you don’t know about your career is 100% learnable!