According to Gallup research, 85% of employees worldwide are disengaged at work. Your career is a 45-year long journey, covering pretty much the best part of your life as an adult– isn’t it scary to have to go through each day of this long journey half-heartedly, working just to pay the bills? It makes me wonder, why are such a high percentage of professionals unfulfilled at work? Nobody starts their career to pursue mediocrity, right? So, what’s going wrong? Is it because most people are imitating someone else’s path that would make them seem successful socially? Is it because they choose a career just for money or to keep their parents happy?
Think about it: If you were doing work that utilises your natural ability, energises you and meets your aspirations of career growth, financial gain and overall fulfillment, wouldn’t you be 100% engaged at work? Absolutely! You would also have no competition whatsoever. So, how do you find such work with a company that matches with everything you want in your career?
Before I share how you can do it, you must be willing to adapt to the new paradigm of employment: Today, your career is not about a job, rather it’s the “business of you” and hence just doing a good job isn’t enough; you must take 100% responsibility of marketing and promoting it, and constantly looking for ways to grow your “business of you”.
|Now, let’s talk about how to build a career that ticks all the boxes.|
First, You must clarify who you are and what you want out of your career. There are three things you will need to do to build the clarity; deep introspection, interviews with role models and finding top companies that match your aspirations.
Second, You must communicate about your “business of you” in the best possible way. There are three things you will need to do; articulate your value proposition and unique selling point, create your visibility in the marketplace and demonstrate your authority in your area of expertise.
Third, Connect with high quality professionals. You must build a strategic professional network. If you don’t have a network, you are playing the career game blindly. You must also develop mentors and sponsors within this network who can vouch for you when you’re looking for that next important move. To grow your network, you will need to do three things; assess your current network, extend your current network, and build brand new connections aligned with your dreams and goals.
So, putting it all together, the 3-step framework to build a thriving and future-proof career looks like this:
1.1. Self-assessment: Introspect and gather information on your natural abilities, your strengths, your values, what energies you, what sucks energy out of you, what your core values are, your skills and your aspirations.
1.2. Role modelling: Identify role models, people who you admire, people who are ahead of you on a similar path. Then do lots of informational interviews with them. You will start to see your next best options and future roadmap much more clearly. Some of these people may already be working with companies that would be the best match for you.
1.3. Matching companies: Identify top companies that match your natural abilities, values, strengths, and aspirations. Most professionals join a company for better designation or more money, they rarely research many other aspects required for long-term career growth. For example, whether or not the project you will be working on is visible at a CEO level or if the skills and experience you will develop in that project will make you highly valuable in next 12-18 months. Now, create a list of 10 companies. Research about them. Connect with employees in those companies. Finally, list the top 3-5 best matches. Then start to develop connections with the employees in those companies. Find out what potential problems a company is trying to solve. Figure out what value you can add. You may want to create a report with some research and recommendations. Send the report to the right people in the company. If you do it right, you will be able to get a role in the company even if there was no open role that was published.
2.1. BVP and USP: Articulate your business value – what do you bring to the table. Also, figure out your unique selling point that differentiates you from any other candidate.
2.2. Visibility: Now that you have got strong BVP and USP, it’s time to create some visibility in the marketplace. Update your LinkedIn profile. Engage with senior professionals and thought leaders in your area of expertise.
2.3. Authority: Write an article or speak in a conference. You do not need to be a senior industry leader to share your thoughts and opinions. You can share what’s relevant at the stage you’re at in your career. You easily differentiate yourself as a thought leader because most professionals wouldn’t dare to share their opinion publicly.
3.1 Assess current network: Most professionals have never looked at their network as an asset. Chances are, you already have some people in your network that can help you with your next best move. Look into your phone, your LinkedIn, your email list…
3.2 Extend current network: If you think nobody in your current network is in a position to help, check who these people are connected to. If you found someone at the second level of connection, ask the person at the 1st level connection to introduce you to them.
3.3 Develop new connections: Whether you have the right people in your current network or not, developing new connections with high quality professionals is an ongoing activity. Without this, your view of career will be very narrow, and chances are you will not have access to the juicy opportunities.
I would encourage you to review the 3 steps and the sub-steps under them. Rate yourself on each of the 9 parameters and write a sentence or two on what you can do to strengthen these aspects. Then take necessary action to strengthen the areas that are hurting you the most. Through the framework that I’ve shared on how to build an authentic career, you will hopefully be able to take the next step forward.