Your Job Search And Developing A Successful Professional Career

By: Steve Evans

For those of us that are just beginning their job search after finishing their course of study, the world of work can seem rather daunting. There are so many careers to choose from these days. They are no easier to get into than they ever were, and it is so hard to know before you start which are the most likely to suit your temperament and long-term interests.

For all those embarking on a job search I would like to say that one of the most important criteria should in fact be the choice of the company. Do make enquiries about the company and their reputation for developing their staff. Find out if possible about staff turnover rates and if at interview, do ask questions which relate to the value that the organisation places upon its staff and their development.

Once in most companies the degree of flexibility for individuals to develop and change roles within most professional organisations, which exists nowadays, is greatly improved compared with ten or twenty years ago.

In many organisations career development for professionals used to be hierarchical, linear and predictable. Now in contrast it is dynamic, lateral and unpredictable, at least within many of the most vibrant and successful professional organisations in the United Kingdom.

When most professionals think of their career they often think in terms of their qualifications, training, experience and the opportunities that progress in these will bring, as long as they have made the right choice of company within which this will happen.

Indeed recent United Kingdom research has shown that the companies themselves generally see this as the career progression route they offer. Nevertheless, research within these organisations in recent years and the charting of the progress of individuals has shown that there are other important career drivers at work within these organisations which are allowing employees to move both upwards and laterally. These effects which are greatly beneficial to the careers and job satisfaction of staff remain largely unappreciated within these organisations, and yet we are going to reveal them here.

In this article I will now list and explain these all important "other ways" to get on in your career. We hope that those reading this, who are at the job search stage, will feel re-assured. Be assured that it is becoming very unlikely that a poor career decision now could ever leave you in the situation of being a "square peg in a round hole" later, when you develop a better personal knowledge of your own job strengths, and maybe find they don't match your current role.

The "other ways" to reach fulfilment and promotion in your job:-

1.Follow your passion
2.Be pro-active
3.Grasp opportunities
4.Engage in politics
5.Be visible
6.Use personal networking
7.Build and share expertise
8.Risk taking
9.Personal image

Not all these will be open to employees at all levels within the organisation, although most will and I will now briefly comment on each of the above list. As follows;-

1.Follow your passion

Don't be concerned, especially during your job search, if you do not have a formal career plan. Although most of us imagine that successful people are driven by a career plan, recent interviews with top achievers have shown that this is not mostly the case. What these job search high achievers have in common though is that they are driven by a challenge, or learning, or both.

Another common factor for success is to be true to yourself, and this is where the flexibility to change roles within an organisation is so important. You may need to move around to find that niche in which your personal goals become aligned with company goals. When this becomes a reality, then those around you will also feed off your positive motives which will show through, and the subconscious affect will be very positive.

2.Be pro-active

You will need to seize opportunities and actively seek them out. Earlier we talked about the increase in flexibility that organisations are allowing their staff to develop their careers. The other and slightly negative side to this is that you are far less likely to be looked after than in previous years, and the days of being offered promotion as and when your experience and length of service would place you next in turn are far less likely than they once were.

3.Grasp opportunities

It hardly needs saying that you will actually need to grasp those opportunities, but if your personal goals are aligned with those of the organisation, you will want to take on the challenges that promotion will offer you. Don't be cynical about volunteering. Do raise your head above the parapet and make your willingness to accept progression clear to your line managers, and the right decision makers.

4.Engage in politics

I am going to call politics the ability of high flying employees to (without necessarily realising fully what they are doing, or to themselves call it "politics"), recognise those in the organisation who yield the power and influence to further their careers. This is best done through contact made during projects and obviously includes developing good relationships through your contact through normal duties with higher levels of management. This is positive politics. Do not view it, and do not use it as knife-in the back politics, which it should never be.

5.Be visible

You will not be offered opportunities unless you are in the right place at the right time. Some choose deliberately to work at head office. Others rise through regional and branch offices, but make sure they remain visible by their use of politics, and by sheer skill and effort in producing remarkable results which in themselves create the visibility you will need.

6.Use personal networking

To most of us it comes naturally, but is still worth mentioning her. Treat your colleagues well, and as you would hope to be treated. Do assist less senior staff in their work. Do take on specialist expert roles, become involved in office working groups and committees, and make yourself available to colleagues who may need assistance in their decision making. OK, this may take up some of your time, and reduce your performance in core work to some extent, but, those you help will usually work more effectively after assistance is given, especially if they are part of your team, and become far more likely to support you in your promotion, when needed.

7.Build and share expertise

This is particularly important to those whose vocation is in the technical field and who do not seek management posts to rise within an organisation. Immerse yourself fully in all technical aspects of your chosen subject. Use to the fullest the willingness of most enlightened companies to provide you with training. Use politics and personal networking to build your reputation as an expert within your specialist area, if you can excel in what you do, publish papers and publicise your standing both within the company and within the professional organisations to which you will hold memberships and present you research.

8.Risk taking

This will come naturally if you are following your passion, but do be calculating and do use all possible political and personal networking skills to weigh the risks in say starting a new product section of the organisation. Be sure to understand the relative merits of the upside, alongside the downside if somehow you fail. Handle things well and even a less than successful outcome can be put to your own advantage in most circumstances, and generally your commitment to sensible risk taking in connection with new ventures will count very highly in your favour.

9.Personal image

All of the above will build over time to become your personal image, both as you see yourself and others see you within the organisation: your reputation. As you rise within the company structure no matter whether you be a manager, or a technical expert just about the most important aspect of your reputation will be your reputation to deliver. To deliver what you promise, when you promise it, and within allocated resources, time and cost. Your ability to deliver will underpin all your other efforts combined, and you will be a success story attracting those around you to follow you.

So, job search may be your quest today, do your searching with energy and drive. Never forget the enormous opportunities that lay ahead in employment, to build your own life-experience, achieve wealth and fulfilment, and "make a difference".

Careers and Job Hunting
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