Are you interested in more control over your professional journey? Want to unlock your career potential? Could you use more resilience in the face of events that impact your career? In part 1 of Key Career Moments, we looked at the 4 Key Events that Determine Your Future:
- Transactions: Job interviews, performance reviews, negotiations, signing a big client
- Forks in the road: Decision points about this or that opportunity and different directions
- Encounters: Exposure and learning from people, information and ideas
- Crisis & Adventure: Forced events that impact your career and the key opportunities to perform under a spotlight
How do you prepare for and take advantage of these key career moments?
In this article, I cover four strategies that will optimize the potential of these career moments, and as a result, create more success and resilience in your professional life. They are;
- Develop your Market Readiness
- Build your Market Power
- Develop Situational Awareness
- Be a Generator of Positive Key Career Moments
Develop your Market Readiness
When it comes to career transactions, key decisions, and network interactions, there is a set of skills, awareness and knowledge that make you more or less effective. I developed a framework called Market Readiness and it includes self and market awareness, and your level of skill and effectiveness in personal branding, interviewing and network development.
When you think about it, its shocking that someone at mid-career might not have a firm grasp of their strengths, understand how to structure a compelling resume or be confident in their ability to navigate a structured interview. Two areas of note:
Understand Your Professional Value
Self-awareness is key. Your ability to intentionally set directions, sell yourself into new opportunities, or make a good decision about your career are a function of your self-awareness. Invest the time to gain clarity (and confidence) from understanding your professional offering, purpose and market.
Develop your market skills
When it comes to the inevitable transaction points in your career, most key career moments are foreseeable and have an element of skill attached to them. The problem is that like buying a house or a car, we only engage in these kinds of events a few times in our life. You need to intentionally build your skills for the predictable career moments in order to get the most from these events.
Build your Market Power
Your degrees of freedom in a specific key career moment – your ability to choose, to say yes or no, to have negotiation power, to have access to more influential people, are a result. A result of all of the upstream work you’ve done to build a track record, an in-demand set of skills and expertise, a body of work, reputation, network, and influence.
Market power helps you avoid that awful feeling of hanging on, of not having a choice, of pursuing what feels safe vs. what is right for you.
Develop Situational Awareness
Situational awareness involves knowing that there is a potential key career moment in front of you and taking action to take full advantage of the moment.
Know when to over prepare
There are times when you need to go all out. You do not want to miss your shot. If there is a key, upcoming event that has the possibility of doing great things for your career, or sinking your career if you do poorly, work accordingly.
Learn how to ask
There are conversations you will have where you need to seize the opportunity and ask quality questions or ask for what you want. It may be feedback, information, assignment to a key project or a promotion. Or, it may be a referral or request for information. Don’t let a potential career moment pass you by because you were passive.
Learn how to say no
Saying yes to the wrong thing is a very common trap and can cost you years of your working life, or at least time, energy and attention on the wrong thing. Avoid saying yes to the wrong job, the wrong company, the wrong project or a direction that doesn’t fit with your plans or who you are. Your ability to say no is a result of your market power and your level of self-awareness.
Be a Net Generator of Positive Key Events
When it comes to encounters and adventures and some forms of career transactions, more is better. More exposure to ideas, relationships, insights and opportunities to shine. You have the power to generate and create more of these key events.
This week, for example, you could find ways to 5x your exposure to positive encounters by increasing your commitment to reach out to and meet people, consume more and better information and ideas and intentionally improve your retention, learning and follow-up from these encounters.
The more you are interacting, engaging and taking proactive actions to market yourself, create something new, serve the community, start a business, or express an opinion, the more likely you are to create more of these key, positive career events.
Ultimately, your professional journey is shaped by just a few decisions, conversations and actions. Gain more control over your journey by understanding this concept and learning how to get the most benefit from these moments. Even better, embrace the idea that you have a large degree of control over creating your own key career moments.