Your Career

Career: Talking about your Career – For Employees

No one cares about your career as much as you do.

No one!

No one knows what you want from your career as much as you do.

No one knows what you’re willing to offer a career as much as you do.

So, it stands to reason that you ought to be deciding what you want your career to be and then going out and getting it.

You need to decide what you can do. Decide what you want. Make a plan. And go get it.

We have a simple Career Planner, which can guide you through to a Plan.

Alternatively, we have more detail in the next section to get you thinking.

© 2017 All rights reserved
mwah. making work absolutely human

As you plan your Career, there are four areas to consider –

Step 1 – What do offer to a career. This is a combination of your experience and skills, and also what you offer in terms of passion and commitment, teamwork and ambition. Depending on how all that adds up, you might also consider any development you’re willing to undertake.

Step 2 – What you want from your career. This can be anything. From money, to great work, from status to an opportunity to change the world. Without judgement, you need to think about what you want from you career, and then be realistic about how much you’re willing to give or sacrifice to get what you want.

Step 3 – Is about your life plans. Work is just one part of life. What else is important to you? Can they combine with your work and career? Can you turn your life goal into a career?

Step 4 – Is about your Context. Is your current context working for you? Or you making the most of your current context? Could you get imagine or design a better context? Do you have the right sponsors, mentors and coaches in your life? Can you get them?

Once you’ve thought through these steps, it’s all about planning and chipping away at every opportunity until you achieve your goals.

Here’s some questions to ask yourself as you go –

Career: Knowing how ambitious you are

The higher you go in your career, the more competitive it is.

When you start planning your career, you have to decide how ambitious you are. Do you want to be a CEO, or a business owner? Do you want to take great risks? Are you happy to go overseas and work in different countries to get more experience? How hard are you willing to work? Not all careers mean long hours, but most have some years of that somewhere along the line.

Serious careers also require resilience. You won’t always win, and you’ll need to decide whether you can work with Plan A, Plan B and Plan C all heading in the right direction via very different paths. You’ll need to be ready for unexpected opportunities and equally  to bounce back when you miss out on the ones you had your heart set on. 

Plus, your level of ambition has context in your life, and it can change over your life. Are you well and healthy and able to throw yourself into your career? Do you have other priorities, like family or caring responsibilities or a concurrent athletic career or some serious study you’re doing part-time? All these things mean that for some stages of your life career is not the only priority.

So, as you consider your level of ambition, be honest and realistic.

Career: Understanding your potential

We use a fairly unique way of looking at potential. It includes many of the elements that businesses use to assess potential so they’re not a bad place to start in looking at your own potential.

  • Ability – Are you a great performer? Have you achieved great results? Are you consistent in achieving results? Can you achieve great results in more than one context/company/industry?
  • Curiosity – Are you curious and always wanting to learn? Do you challenge thinking and come up with new ideas and new ways?
  • EQ – Do you have high Emotional Intelligence? Do you relate well to others, form strong relationships, create deep connections?
  • Resilience – Are you resilient and do you learn and bounce-back from adversity?
  • Motivation FOR others – The best leaders are motivated by wanting to impact others. They seek to lead FOR others. Is this you?
  • Ambition to do more – Are you ambitious to do more, have more responsibility and accountability?

The other component of your potential is your ability to take feedback and lessons from experiences and from people who work closely with you. Are you willing to change things about you that don’t work and can you change your way of working to better suit different contexts?

Career: Planning your career

A great career needs planning. Of course, there are guaranteed paths, or promised promotions, but you do need to lock in a rough plan of what you want to do, even in the next few years.

We have a simple Career Planner (insert link) that helps with this.

It guides you through some thinking on –

  • What you can offer your career
  • What you want from your career
  • Your life plans
  • Your context and whether you need to change options.

We’ve noted these as the four Stages of Career Planning

Career: Getting great opportunities

Great career opportunities can be specific jobs, or they can be fantastic development opportunities or projects that give unique development experiences. They can be the opportunity to work with specific people or leaders, or in specific geographies where there’s great work happening.

Great opportunities are not always gift wrapped. Sometimes, the least attractive opportunities turn out to be invaluable! Like that opportunity in that crazy small country town, when you wanted New York.

So, how do you go about getting opportunities –

  1. Do your current job so well that you’re seen as worth taking a risk on, safe hands to handle whatever comes up. Be THE best at what you do.
  2. Let people know what you want and that you’re open for opportunities.
  3. Be ready. Great opportunities can be on the table one day and gone the next. Be open and ready to grab opportunities. Don’t be so high maintenance that its easier to give it to someone else.
  4. Have more than one sponsor or mentor looking for opportunities for you.
  5. Take opportunities. If you take small opportunities and make them work, bigger ones will come.

Career: How to ask if you’re considered ‘High Potential’

Every year of your career and every opportunity matters. So, it’s important that your current job, business and industry work well for your career.

Most companies have a view on which people are highest potential, and they business over-invested in them comparative to their peer group.

How do you find out if you’re currently considered high potential in your company? 

Well, in some companies, it’s as easy as asking. They’ll want you to know you’re highly valued, so they’ll be keen to advise you.

In other companies, the information is much more confidential. In these companies, you’re looking for ‘signs’. Are you being sent to extra training? Are you being put on special projects to learn new things? Are you being asked to be involved in the work that matters most? Are other people in your peer group being given these opportunities and you’re not? These are all signs of being highly valued as High Potential. If you are considered High Potential, the context will probably work well for you. If you’re not, then you have to decide whether you’re willing and able to change things significantly and be reassessed, (formally and informally) or whether you need to change you context (job, leader, company or industry) to be given better opportunities.    

Career: What to do if you’re considered ‘High Potential’

If you’re considered High Potential, you will be given extra opportunities and greater development. If you’re in this group, by all means, take the opportunities and development, but also ask for mentoring and coaching from both your immediate leader and perhaps one or two of their peers.

If the context is working well, you should use it well. Not every job and leader works well for you career, so when its all lining up, grab the opportunities!

Career: What to do if you’re not considered ‘High Potential’

If you’re not considered High Potential, you have to decide if your career is in good hands in you current job/company/industry and with your current leader. People have wasted many years sitting patiently waiting, when it was apparent that the opportunities didn’t ever eventuate. It is however, a balance. If you move too often, you never settle long enough to do great work. If you don’t move when the context is not working for you, you can waste years.

Its all about a personal decision on whether you’re getting enough back from your current context to warrant the effort you’re putting in. If you love the work, and are only moderately ambitious, maybe you’ll wait a little longer for opportunity. If you’re very ambitious and the context is working against you (eg, a bad leader), then changing quickly is usually the best option.    

Career: How to take feedback

You should be constantly seeking feedback.

Making it known that you love feedback and actively listen and do something with it.

When someone gives you feedback, you should say Thank You.

It’s a generous offer and almost always well-intended.

That said, there is a saying that ‘all feedback is a gift’, but that’s not always true.

You have to listen to all feedback, and decide a few things –

  • Is it from a credible source? Is it a person who knows talent and potential, and has a track record of being able to develop talented people?
  • Have you heard it before? (if there’s a pattern, it might be worth listening to)
  • Does it align to you and your values?
  • Does it help with your plans and your ambitions?
  • Are you capable of addressing it?
  • Is there support you can get to address?
  • Is it a deal breaker for your career if you don’t address it?

There are plenty of other questions, but these are a good start.

Once you decide that its good feedback, you step into actioning mode. Do something with it. Take it seriously, no matter how hard it is for your to make that change. 

Career: How to get promoted

Aside from being great at your work and your job, the traditional way of being promoted is to spot an advertised job and apply. Take the application really seriously. Make sure you meet the criterion and put together your best effort at the formal application and subsequent interview. If you’re not experienced and good with a CV, find someone in your network who is and get help.

Give the promotion every chance of being successful.

Career: How to get considered for a big promotion

Big promotions are hard to get, and you usually have to laid the foundations in advance. You have to have let people know you’re keen, let them know you’re happy to take a big jump and all the risk that goes with it. Big promotions often involve geographic moves and relocations, or learning totally new skills. They might mean undergoing training. Whatever the case, everyone who can make the decision needs to know you’re happy to do the work and whatever it takes to get the big opportunity, the big promotion.

Big promotions often come with inherent risks. If you’re leaping over a few layers of experience, you don’t yet know whether you’ll land out of your depth.

So, being considered for the big promotion is the first step, but once you get it, you have to deliver something special, to clearly demonstrate the faith placed in you was well founded, and a good investment. 

Career: Sponsors

Every great career needs sponsors. We suggest three sponsors, three mentors and three friends, and one coach.

Sponsors are people who hold more influential positions usually in your industry or company, and have the opportunity to speak on your behalf and ensure opportunities come your way, even when you’re not in the room. 

The old saying is “A coach talks to you, a mentor talks with you, and a sponsor talks about you”.

Statistically, it has long been proven that sponsors – people talking about you – are the most important for a great career. The reason you need more than one sponsor is to avoid ‘risk’. Very senior leaders come and go from companies, and if you’re sponsored by the one that leaves, it can have a very detrimental impact on your career. Having two or three balances that risk.

Career: Mentors

Mentors are people usually in your same profession or aligned ambition, who can listen to your challenges and opportunities, and share with you their own experiences of similar events. They can teach you lessons they’ve learnt, and equally help you avoid some of the more painful life lessons they’ve endured.

Mentors are often lifelong relationships, which grow into important friendships.

Mentors are very valuable to your career. 

Career: Coaches

A coach is someone who works directly with you on a particular ambition. You set a goal together and then you actively plan to achieve it. A coach is often a professional executive, who is assigned to work with you for a set period.

It is a compliment if your business offers you an executive coach. In the absence of your business offering you a coach though you can independently make this investment in yourself. A great coach is worth their weight in gold.

Career: Friends

Don’t underestimate the value of your family, friends and general network as you plan your career. If you’re generous and have done the right thing by people, they will be keen to connect you to people and opportunities that might not be immediately obvious to your plans.

If in doubt, ask. Do any of your friend or family know someone who does this? Or works in XYZ company?

There are many many things that impact a career. This is just a few to consider.

© 2017 All rights reserved
mwah. making work absolutely human

You should aim to become an expert in your own life and your own career.

We have a number of suggestions on how to continue to develop your career skills.

  1. We have a mwah Journal, that guides your through a series of reflective questions so you can really consider your plans, your ambitions, and your strategy. You can grab a mwah. Journal here (insert link to mwah. Journal and checkout).
  1. We have the most fantastic partners in Career HQ. Career HQ have a set of simple tools, that you can use to decide on your strengths, preferences and preferred work and career. The tools are mapped to over 8000 jobs, so it’s a wonderful way to look at your own values and preference applied much more broadly than your current or traditional work and career.  (Insert Link across the Career HQ site)

And there are a million articles on Career and Development and Feedback.

Here’s just a few we really like to get you started –

On owning your career –

Ten ways to get a great job that don’t involve job applications

And a nice presentation on managing your own career.


© 2017 All rights reserved
mwah. making work absolutely human

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