Successfully navigating through the marketplace is reliant on a number of factors, but the two most important factors when developing your career and the opportunities presented to you are the networks you nurture, and your ability to leverage on your professional experience. We invest a lot of time both academically and professionally to gain skills that are integral to the success of many organisations, and as time goes on, you have to use those experiences to open doors, and elevate yourself to platforms where your aspirations can be achieved.
As part of career leveraging, you need to place a value on the expertise you bring to your organisation. Every new skill you master, whether it be theoretical or practical, adds value to your professional portfolio and your employability.
Think of yourself as a property in the real estate market, every modification you make to your property whether it’s internal renovation or an added extension to the infrastructure, the value of your property automatically increases its’ market value and as a result it is more sellable to a potential buyer.
How do I leverage for success?
Firstly, by Documenting: Keep a professional journal, where you record notable achievements you have made. These achievements do not have to be something that has been documented during performance reviews because, depending on the organisation and their required deliverables at the time, not all achievements can be measured by “key performance indicators”. As long as it’s an achievement to you, make a note of it, that one achievement can be a valued attribute to your future employer, and a deciding factor in a recruitment process.
We are all guilty of engaging in projects and assuming responsibilities without including them on our CV mostly because we don’t have the time. The journal is a diary that keeps us accountable to our progress. Sometimes we get too comfortable and say to ourselves, “Well, I’m not looking for a job, so it’s not really necessary.” If the pandemic that held the world captive for the last 18 months didn’t teach us anything, it taught us that anything can happen and no employee, job, or company is indispensable. So, documenting every milestone no matter how small, is a necessity.
You don’t need to wait to be job hunting to note down your learning experiences, responsibilities, and achievements because by the time that comes, the experience is not fresh in your mind and vital information that an employer could be potentially looking for may be lost in transit. Remember, you won’t get a chance to show an employer your capabilities if your CV does not depict that you have that experience.
Hiring Managers do not have time to assume, “If she’s done A that means she has experience in B,” and if they do overlook that, there will be this niggling feeling that your experience is not that solid, because if it was, you would have mentioned it; which means you have set yourself up to fail before you’ve even begun.
Secondly, by Strategic Positioning: Hard work pays, and gets you noticed. However, working smart and nurturing the right relationships in the workplace pays even more. Make it a point to get to know professionals who work in the same industry and intentionally build mutually beneficial relationships. This could be a message to check up on them from time to time, set a reminder to send them a birthday wish, or share some information that would be beneficial to them. It’s the thought that counts. Believe me when I say that these will be the people who will speak for you in rooms of opportunities where you are not present.
It’s important to maximise every opportunity that presents itself, but you’d be of greater value when you also consider the benefit of others. Use your knowledge to enable those around you to achieve their aspirations. This is priceless, because not only are you providing a platform for growth through knowledge sharing, you’re developing yourself as an expert in a subject matter (also known as an expert in your field). Being the go-to person for information, strategically puts you in a place of necessity when other opportunities arise. Why? Because as an active enabler, you’ve selflessly added value, so if there’s an opportunity where your expertise can be monetised, you’d be the person they’d call because of the lasting impression you’d left behind.
Have you noticed that one colleague who is not very vocal, sometimes goes unnoticed, but out of the blue they’ve been promoted, or they have left the organisation for pastures new? These are people I called the strategic absorbers.
They blend in – they don’t stay out of sight that you’d ignore them, but they develop relationships out of the radar. The strategic absorbers strategically make themselves available to assist their managers, colleagues, and anyone who needs an extra pair of hands. While they are lending a helping hand, they are absorbing more responsibilities, and over-time they become everyone’s strongest alliance, assuming the role as the “go-to person”. Using this to their advantage, they package this experience in their CV, utilise their network and present themselves as an integral asset. These professionals have infiltrated the workplace over time and positioned themselves as a necessity which they later use as bargaining chips for progression whether this is within the organisation or when looking for career development opportunities elsewhere.
The workplace, and the economy that affects market trends is constantly evolving. So, to remain relevant, you must forecast, and move two steps ahead of it. The strategy you implement to form allies and develop your commercial exposure will be the beginning to establishing a diverse portfolio that can stand the test of time.
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