Fundamentals of Career Change Success

Here are my top four tips for your career success:

1. Don’t neglect your career!

The work you do has a huge impact on your happiness. It affects, if not determines, your self-esteem, income, lifestyle, health, friendships and even your love life. Yet most people spend more time researching a holiday trip than they do their career options!

My advice – put some time and effort into managing your career direction and developing your job search skills. If you don’t know how to get help from a career counsellor or career coach.

2. Your boss won’t do if for you – LEARN HOW TO MANAGE YOUR OWN CAREER.

No one else can take responsibility for your career. It is essential that you invest some time to learn two things: first, how to discover your ideal next career move and second, how to make it happen successfully.

Career coaches, career advisors, and career consultants have all developed a lot of knowledge in this area but unfortunately it is rarely taught at school or even at university. Seek out this expert knowledge and develop your career change and job search skills.

You will need to use these skills many times in the coming years. It is now predicted we will all experience career change between 5 to 7 times in our working lives. Yes… that is careers NOT jobs! Most of us will be changing jobs at least every 2 – 3 years!

3. Remember… being good at your job is NOT the same as being good at managing your career.

Many of the retrenched people I’ve been paid thousands of dollars to help in corporate outplacement programs have been the most loyal, hard-working employees. They made the mistake of thinking that if they just did what was asked of them they would be taken care of.

Don’t just do what you’re told. Learn how to be strategic with your career and create opportunities which match your real strengths with the changing world of work so that you continue to have a future.

4. My final tip – build your career on your strengths.

Don’t worry so much about your weak areas. Successful people identify what their natural strengths are and look for careers which allow them to do what they love by using these strengths as much as possible. This means a career where you’ve cut out doing the things you don’t like – you weren’t very good at these things anyway.

Do you think high achievers like Nicole Kidman really don’t have things they’re not good at doing? They certainly do. However they’ve found their strengths and zeroed in on using them. It may sound simple but it’s true – success flows when you have a laser FOCUS on finding and applying your strengths.

These are important fundamental points. If you were a life-long friend seeking advice I would want to share these 4 tips with you. But there is more I’d also want to share…

Top Five Career Mistakes To Avoid

1. Randomly pursuing jobs

Apparently, even the greatest of strategists do not have a clear plan when it comes to their own careers. Most, just accept jobs or opportunities that come their way, without ever thinking about where they will lead them. “Let’s just see where this job takes me,” is what most professionals tell me when they accept a new position.

It is very important to define both long term and short term career goals. If my long term goal is to be the director of a group, what short term goals should I pursue to get there?

2. Ineffective networking

An ineffective — or worse still, non-existent — networking strategy is perhaps one of the biggest reasons why even extremely talented individuals don’t succeed as well as they should. Active networking should be an integral component of any career success campaign.

Conferences, professional development events, trade shows, workshops, networking events (direct and indirect) — all of these are valuable avenues for multiplying your network, and thus your growth prospects. Every individual you meet is a potential contact and how you build and use the relationship is entirely up to you.

3. Sacrificing work-life balance

No, I haven’t spoken to your spouse, but I am dead serious when I say that lack of work-life balance could seriously impact your career progress. Our bodies are not designed to work 25 hours a day. Our careers form an important part of our lives, but there are other areas that need our attention as well.

We need to rest and recharge to deliver optimal performance. Working unreasonably long hours can wear us out and deprive us of the ability to provide fresh and creative ideas — and ideas are the fuel on which the career engine runs.

4. Allowing the opportunities pipeline to run dry

Ever spoken to a top-producing sales professional? They will never let the sales pipeline dry even if they have achieved their goals for the period. Generating new leads is the most critical element of their function. We, too, could learn some lessons here.

As individuals, we are not just employees; we are CEOs of our own careers. As such, we must make constant attempts to grow in our careers. This is applicable not only to job leads but also to internal opportunities, such as new projects and training initiatives. Don’t ever allow the disease of stagnation to seep into your careers. You shouldn’t go job-hopping by any means, but rather generate as many opportunities as possible to enrich your experience and profile. Take charge!

5. Not investing in professional development

I have always stressed on the fact that we are knowledge workers in this Information Age. Knowledge is constantly changing and by failing to stay abreast with what is happening in our professions, we are certainly losing out on valuable opportunities.

Create a professional development plan that will help you stay cutting-edge. Even if your employer doesn’t sponsor continuing education, set aside a budget. If you undertake the right training, this investment will pay for itself many times over.