Career Development and “The XYZ”
Once you’ve set your sights on a long term career goal and worked out where your strengths lie, progression is as much about career development as it is hard work. Career development requires planning and commitment – have you decided what you want people to think about you? Are you working on projects that get you closer to that? Are you attending the right networking events, contributing in the relevant environments? All of these activities require you to take a long term view on your career – they might not result in immediate payback, but they do provide a supportive halo above your day-to-day actions.
Perhaps the best way to think of your career is as a living organism: it needs to be cared for, nurtured and fed. If you leave it neglected and assume that it will just grow itself and ‘happen’, then you may find yourself being last on the invite list, overlooked for promotions, and staring out the same window in twenty years time. Career development required you to be proactive and to take positive actions to ensure that you end up where you want to be. It requires you to ensure others consider you for new roles, for speaker slots, and for boards.
The early years of career development, although hard work, essentially happen for you: you decide which subjects to focus on, choose the university course that ticks the right boxes, and head into a graduate scheme or your first role… more often than not, your early contribution will be the legwork, and your reward will be modest pay but hopefully relevant experience and the chance to learn. This stage is relatively easy to manage – you work hard, you absorb information and you impress as many colleagues and clients as you can through your commitment.
What’s your XYZ?
From here on it gets harder. As you become more expensive, you need to carve out a ‘brand’ of your own. You move away from being another ambitious and enthusiastic young professional to “someone who XYZs”. It’s vital to take control of what other people perceive to be your “XYZ”, as it helps you get recommended through word of mouth and it helps you to build a reputation in your industry beyond the people you know.
One of the key elements in building any career is being able to demonstrate that you’re great at what you do. And demonstrating is important- don’t assume that people recognise your brilliance outside of your immediate project groups or company. Raising the visibility of your added value through practical means such as industry panels and white papers, but also through online means (such as Slideshare, Twitter or through blogging) is vital. What’s more, recognition in one area has a multiplier effect elsewhere – building a reputation amongst your audience as being the person to talk to about a certain aspect of your business enhances how you are perceived across the board.
One of the most accessible and highly effective career development tools is Deskarma. Through developing your presence on Deskarma you can share your knowledge and your specialism’s with the wider world. Deskarma allows you to develop clear areas of expertise and – assuming you do know your stuff – your peers will recognise your knowledge and assign karma accordingly, thus making you and your content more visible, and giving you that all important career development kudos.