5 Ways to Make a Cracking Career Move
Something that comes up time and time again when people come to me for help is ‘What’s my next career move?’ There are so many choices out there (which is part of the problem) and it can be tougher than a bag of hammers to figure out what to do and where to go next. That’s why I want to share with you 5 strategies for figuring out your next career move and for making darn sure it’ll be a cracking move for you.
- Look at Your Wiring Your brain has billions and billions of neurons connected to each other by even more synapses. I’m not going to count them. These synapses are the pathways of the brain and they enable information to flow freely and allow you to think and do. Some of the synapses will be like motorways, throwing huge amounts of information around really quickly, while others will be like a little country lane blocked by a tractor – not very effective. The stronger pathways will be the things you’re best at and it’s by capitalising on how your brain’s wired that you’ll get your best results. In the real world that means that the things that come naturally to you (your talents), the things you’re best at (your strengths) and the things that mean the most to you (your values) are hardwired into you, and those are the things that you excel at. Talent A talent is something that comes naturally to you and can be any recurring pattern of feeling, thought or behaviour that you can apply to get a positive result. It tends to be something you do without even thinking about, something that seems to come spontaneously from the top of your head, something that’s always exerted a ‘pull’ for you or something that might feel like a whole bank of switches have been flicked to the ‘on’ position when you use it. Strength A strength is a combination of your skills, experience and talents. A strength is something that you’re able to do at a consistently high or near-perfect level of performance. It’s the accumulation and application of what you’ve learned works well, the skills that you’ve worked at and gained, and the talents you’ve always had. It’s likely that you derive some kind of inherent satisfaction from doing it and maybe you can picture yourself quite happily doing it repeatedly. Value Your values are ten thousand feet down inside you, right at the very core of who you are. They’re the building blocks, the foundations and cornerstones for you, and are the things in yourself, in others or in the world that are most important to you. You know those times when you’ve felt really alive, on top of your game or buzzing? Those are the times when one or more of your values are being honoured, and you can get more of that by living according to them.
- Find What’s Always Been There When I was around 6 or 7 years old I remember being asked by my primary school teacher what I wanted to be when I grew up. I reflected for a moment and torn between two options I replied ‘I’m not sure. Either an artist or an inventor’. I had two pictures – one of me in a huge studio, being swept along in the moment as I created magnificent works of art that Synapse xt would make people weep, and another of me in a lab coat with crazy hair surrounded by bubbling test tubes and all manner of electronic devices as I used everything I knew to build Something Amazing (TM). Those two sides have always been there for me (typical Gemini) – the art and the science, the creative and the logical, the head and the heart. As a 6 year old boy I’d identified that both areas were hugely important to me, and those two areas persist for me to this day. A day when I can use my logic and my creativity is a great day because I get to use the things that have always been there for me. I share that with you because having work that includes the things that have persisted for you is absolutely critical in terms of loving your work and getting more out of it. Ignoring those themes and dismissing what’s always been there for you is ignoring who you are and who you’ve always been, and it’s a surefire way for you to be unfulfilled in your work. It’s critical to know what those persistent themes are, because you can then integrate them into what you do, both in and out of your work. Explore what persists for you and look for ways to use, integrate and play to those themes.
- Who’d Be the Best? Who would you love to work for? Forget for a moment about what you’d be doing, think about which companies and organisations you’d love to work with or for. Which organisations push your hot buttons? If you could work for any company, who would it be? Thinking about the ideal company to work with or for (as an employee, a contractor, a consultant, etc.) sets you free to look at companies you respect, admire and who do something that you can connect with. That already ticks a whole load of boxes and sets you ahead of the game. 8 out of 10 people land their next job through a personal contact rather than an advertisement so this is a great way to learn about and pursue opportunities. Get clear on those organisations you’d love to work for, find out the name of someone in the right place in the organisation and send in a killer letter and CV. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking ‘But why would they want me?’ or ”What the heck would I do for them?’ and research their different fields of work or look into filling a skills gap with some training. You never can tell how things happen sometimes, and you’ve got nothing to lose.
- Turn It Inside-Out Too many people start off by thinking in terms of job titles, but I tend to think that should come later in the job searching process. I always ask people to create their next job from the inside-out by looking at what the job would involve and what they’d be doing, rather than operating within the confines of a title. So think about it, what would your ideal job involve? What skills, talents, strengths, values, passions and interests would you be using that would make it a great job? How would you be working ? In an office? By yourself or in a team? What kind of people will be around you? Are you out on the road? Are you working from home? Are there deadlines? How do you make your contribution? What’s fun about the work? What’s fulfilling about the work? And on, and on, and on. The point is to create your best job by looking at the size and shape that your ideal job would have. Quantify what you can, think about the framework you’d be working in and the boundaries or deal breakers you have. Think about what would light you up in your work and what would make you proud. Job titles can limit how you think and where you look for work. By creating your next career move from the inside-out you’re painting a picture of what you’d love to have and how you’d love to be working, and that’s a fantastic template to apply to any job search.