Are you looking to spring clean your career? Ronan Colleran, Partner at AES International, shares his top 10 tips for setting yourself up for future success.
1) CONTROL YOUR DESTINY
Are you looking to spring clean your career? Then work at, and be in control of, your career progression to ensure you remain content in your work life. Having back-up plans in the event your number one option does not materialise is important. To keep your options open, consider the following:
- Invest time in understanding the options open to you internally and externally. Information is key
- Embrace networking. Stay connected by meeting your peers, as well as former and current work colleagues, on a regular basis to understand what’s happening in the market and within their own organisations. Former bosses can make good trusted advisors where a good relationship exists.
- Request mentoring from a more senior member within your organisation as well as from a leader outside your current employer who can provide you with independent advice. Typically, senior executives are more than happy to give something back once approached in the right way.
- Keep your CV current. You never know when you might need one, for either internal or external opportunities, and building a CV from scratch is never advisable as you might omit some key achievements.
2) BUILD YOUR OWN BRAND
How many people in the world know how good you are at your job?
Get the message out there by ticking the following boxes:
- Ensure your social media profiles are current and professionally acceptable.
- Develop relationships with recruitment experts. Invest enough time with them so that they get to understand your experience, what will work for you,and more importantly, what won’t work for you from a career perspective. Take heed of advice they provide as recruitment experts are closer to the market than you.
- Join a representative organisation or a committee that is relevant to your area of expertise to establish relationships and boost your own personal profile.
- If you are in a services organisation, let your closest clients know that you are always thinking about your future (without being unprofessional). They may want you.
- Accept invitations, or seek-out invitations, to speak at industry-wide conferences. This is a good way to put yourself in the shop-window.
3) KNOW YOUR VALUE
Conduct a ‘net present value’ appraisal of your future earnings as opposed to looking at the remuneration on offer in isolation. Don’t fall into the trap of being too short-term in your thinking when considering your next career move.
Do your market research to ascertain your value. Don’t be greedy, as it could price you out of the market. The best role for your career development may not be the highest paying. Also, be realistic about your experience, level and value.
It’s important that you arrive at a salary level based on your actual value as opposed to your needs. “I was on €100,000 in my last job before I was made redundant and I will only take the same,” or “I have a cash-hungry family so I need to earn €200,000 basic salary minimum,” is the wrong way to approach a negotiation.
Communicate regularly with your line manager and with your manager’s manager (if appropriate) before, during and after any move internally or externally.
Information is key. You don’t want to be on the wrong end of the following: “I really liked my last employer where I had six good years as Group Internal Audit Manager. I left because I thought the Head of Internal Audit position would not be coming up for years as my boss is in her early 50s, so there was no opportunity for career progression for me. My previous boss resigned six months after I left the company”.
The best company to work in could be the one you are currently in. Determining internal options for progression should be a high priority.
5) GET THE CULTURE FIT RIGHT
People often leave organisations due to a clash of cultures. Do your due diligence on the company and, more specifically, the person you will be reporting to. The adage ‘you don’t move jobs, you move bosses’ is very true.
A 24/7 retail business that is renowned for having a very strong work ethic and valuing commitment will not appreciate the following: “I am interested in sailing and I need to be on the water in Dún Laoghaire by 5pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the sailing season.”
The following statement also went down like a lead balloon at an interview for a very senior role in a global aircraft leasing business that required significant long-haul travel: “I like to see my kids at both ends of the day”.
6) RECRUITMENT PROCESS PREPARATION
Commit to a process and build your business case. If you go for something, go for it 100% and not half-heartedly, otherwise you will not get the outcome you want. The Roy Keane adage, ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’ couldn’t be truer.
Understand your own experience but, more importantly, be aware and open about gaps and development points as this will enhance your credibility. Don’t go for a role you know you won’t get. It’s a bad reflection on you and your own self-awareness. Also, do your homework on the company itself: the people interviewing and their interview style in advance of an interview. Don’t be the interviewee who comes out from an interview and says: “I didn’t do myself justice. I was so swamped at work over the past week and I didn’t get time to properly prepare.”
7) INTERVIEW PERFORMANCE
It is important to be yourself, listen carefully, be honest in your answering and demonstrate your interest by asking relevant questions. Remember, the reason you have been selected for interview is because the company is of the view that your skills and experience are in the realm of what is required for the role. A more important point at interview is how you come across as a potential future work colleague.
“Give me an example of something you have messed up in your professional career to date” is a question that is often asked. If your response is, “I haven’t messed anything up”, you are not being truthful and your credibility will be called into question.
Similarly, you can’t blame yourself for the global financial crisis, so defend yourself where necessary. Most importantly, make sure you set out clearly in the interview what you will deliver in the role if appointed.
8) DEVELOP A PROVEN TRACK RECORD
Don’t jump from employer to employer. It doesn’t look good on a CV and a proven track record is still what the majority of employers look for at the senior level.
Be aware of the ‘grass is always greener’ trap. No workplace exists that does not have imperfections. Even the so-called ‘wow factor brands’ have work-place issues that would surprise you. Mistakes can happen, and people sometimes choose the wrong employer or the wrong role. Very often,that is down to a lack of proper due diligence by the new employee in advance of accepting the offer.
9) THEME OF AGITATION
If you are career-minded and you are happiest when busiest, challenge yourself. You only get one shot at life and this is not a dress rehearsal. If you can do your current role in your sleep, seek out a new role that re-invigorates you and gives you a new focus. Too many people peak too early in their careers.
10) PERSONAL CONSIDERATIONS
Your career decisions will impact on people close to you. Share your thoughts with loved ones and get their input. Do this before you commit to a recruitment process to ensure that time invested is a fruitful one. Your partner, or your child who is in an important exam year, may not see it as being the best time for you to commit to a new role that will take you away from home more.