How to find your career sweet spot
Christopher Paterson on why identifying and focusing on your career sweet spot will help your career development now and into the future.
Regardless of the industry in which you specialise, from financial services to mining, every industry is adapting to a suite of changes and challenges and the pace of change is accelerating. You’ll see the signs of globalisation and digitisation in offshoring, redundancies, mergers, acquisitions and moves to a flexible rather than a full time workforce.
As a service function, marketing is constantly evolving, and navigating in this fluid environment requires a mix of elements that sit outside your technical or functional expertise.
This article highlights the career elements that characterise those who thrive in times of change compared to those who are at career risk.
The overriding principle here is to get ready for change now. Don’t wait for organisational change and then race to adapt. Build your career agility now in order to create opportunities and take advantage.
Own your career
The question ‘What is my company doing to develop my career?’ is a common one. However, accelerated careers are achieved by those who accept that this is their career alone, not their employer’s and not their manager’s. A simple way to take ownership of your career is to understand your career sweet spot.
Your career sweet spot is when three elements come together:
- What you love to do,
- what you’re good at, and
- the available opportunities.
Reflect on the tasks or projects that you love doing the most. List the skills and capabilities that are your key assets and assess your opportunities internally and externally to discover your sweet spot.
Don’t wait for development to come your way. Look ahead to 2020 and think about the mix of skills, knowledge and experience that you’ll need then. Those who fail to develop forward get stuck in the past very quickly, so start building these career assets now.
When you’re building your development plan, prioritise ‘transferrable skills’. These are skills and capabilities that can be transferred across industries. For example, there is currently a demand for event coordination, campaign management, people management and social media strategy across markets.
If you work in a company that offers learning, development, training and coaching opportunities, then take advantage. Even if you are in a small business, work with your manager to develop a targeted development plan. Keep in mind that most of your development will happen on the job and you both have a vested interest in making sure that your skills are contemporary.
Your existing network is a powerful resource of knowledge and experience. Not only do most of your career opportunities exist in your network, these contacts already have insights and answers that will help you to assess your career sweet spot and help identify what you need to develop.
In our career management practice, we see too many clients wait for change to happen and then dust off their network. It’s a lot smarter to activate your network now, get the intelligence that you need and stay connected.
Your career development is now getting you prepared for 2020. To be agile you’ll also need to anticipate the future state of your industry. Do you understand your industry forecast and the variables that will influence business success or failure?
You don’t need to be an industry commentator, but you are well served by being across these factors to add value in your current role, and to be prepared in terms of your own career decisions.
With a good understanding of your career sweet spot, a development action plan, an active network and a good read for future industry trends you are well placed to adapt to organisational change when it inevitably happens.
On the up cycle, you may experience rapid business growth, new products or services, role expansion or company acquisition [buy or sell side]. On the down cycle, you may encounter downsizing, offshoring, role redundancy or role contraction.
No matter which combination of factors you experience, good change agents make the most of the opportunity by ramping up all the activities above and by following a few simple rules:
1. Look after yourself. Focusing on your own mental and physical wellness is priority number one. Evidence shows that those with a strong wellness profile are better able to adapt to change. You can use this free wellness scorecard and action plan. http://www.alchemycm.com.au/wellness/
2. Communicate early and often. In response to uncertainty and ambiguity, rather than guess or gossip, ask lots of questions. While there may not be 100% clarity on every topic, you will be informed and better equipped to focus on what you do know.
3. Keep an open mind, and don’t default to ‘no’. Change offers a range of new and unfamiliar opportunities. Rather than avoid new concepts, start considering possibilities. A good understanding of your career sweet spot will help you assess the good ideas from the bad ones.
Finally, to build your career agility and to adapt to organisational change, ask for help. You’re not expected to have all the answers. The more people on your team the more likely you are to thrive.
Christopher Paterson is the managing director of Alchemy Career Management.
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