Some of you will have had a clear end goal from the age of 5, so each decision from choosing your GCSEs to your most recent job move has been part of the grand master plan of your rise to the top. Others of us stumble along with vague ideas of doing a bit more networking this year or improving our Excel skills and an overall aim of achieving a decent salary and some semblance of success.
Well, when Sheryl Sandberg speaks on career achievement, we all sit up and listen. According to the COO of Facebook, “you don’t have to have it all figured out”. But equally, it’s not about allowing fate to take its course. Sandberg recommends having a non-specific dream for the longer term, as well as a short, more concrete plan for the next 18 months.
The latter should identify areas you need to improve or skills and expertise you would like to acquire. The long-term dream will be different for all of us but how should we go about planning those next 18 months? What might the criteria be by which we set our short-term goals and how do we go about achieving them?
One thing that will undoubtedly help in any career is constructive advice. Many firms arrange a mentoring system and the benefits of this can be great. Do whatever you can to find a mentor who will take a genuine interest in your progress, who gives constructive advice and who can be an advocate for you within your workplace.
Be willing to take the criticism with the encouragement. Ask them to help you identify areas for improvement and then work to fill in those gaps. In addition, there may be times when you need the perspective of an outsider such as a trusted friend or dare we say it, a recruiter who knows your industry.
A recruiter should be able to look at your CV and career path to date and offer some advice regarding what needs to come next if you’re to achieve that long-term dream, even if it means advising you to stay put. The former might be the one to tell you that you’ve fought long enough, it’s time to close the door on this particular endeavour and try something new.
There are many many factors that contribute to a successful career, but one that is often understated is to swallow your pride and listen. Listen to the positives, but listen even harder to the criticism. You may want to discard some of it, but if you choose the right advisors, you will undoubtedly benefit.