Are you someone who sets your new career goals as Auld Lang Syne finishes the end of a year? Or halfway through the year do you think, ‘I must do something about my future’?
I tend to plan some ten or 20 years ahead – as your goals become more ambitious, you need more evidence and breadth of experience for the best roles. So by planning far ahead, you can think about the skills and track record you might need so you can build these up over time.
One example is if you want a non-executive role. The dream for most people is to get a paid role with a prestigious business (though many are rethinking this with the increased risks and burdens of non-exec roles). But unless you have a high profile or are the CEO of a quoted company, for most of us we need to build a track record of experience first to win these.
This is especially the case if you run a small business.
I started thinking properly about non-executive roles about 15 years ago. I knew I had made a mistake – I had been approached to sit on a prestigious university’s main Council five years previously and stupidly turned it down. These things don’t come by often so my first tip is, grab opportunities this year if they come to you. When I was ready to take on a role, the right ones weren’t around. It took a lot more time than I expected. But that was okay. Because I was planning far ahead, I had time on my side and could take a few delays and setbacks in stride.
I heard Virginia Bottomley, chair of headhunters Odgers Berndston, give a talk a few years ago about how women should position themselves for non-exec roles. She said to analyse the roles on a board – audit committee, noms committee, mergers and acquisitions activity, international growth strategy etc. – and then ask, where do I add value?
This is good advice for any of your career goals, whether you want a promotion, take on voluntary work, or move into a whole new career. Read advertisements for jobs or roles you would like and see what they are asking by way of experience. Talk to headhunters and ask for advice about what you need. Talk to friends about their experiences.
This blog on How to Create your Personal Brand will give you more details, but the key point if you are planning career goals for 2017 is to ask – does my personal brand match my career aspirations? Think about what you need to be known for, are you seen as a thought leader in this field – again there is more here in Why you should be a thought leader – in business, the arts, your career or your hobby.
Two tips. Go on to Google and search for yourself. What comes up? Imagine you are a stranger, what would you say about yourself? Write down what personal brand is coming across for you. Check your LinkedIn profile – does it have personality and reflect your brand?
Then ask a few good friends to do the same. Do they think your profiles match you – and more importantly, your ambitions?
I have been helping a lot of chief executives and directors to achieve their career goals. For many, they have reached their 50s or 60s without ever having gone out actively looking for a job and now want a portfolio career.
Their CVs are usually quite shocking, simply because they haven’t needed one to sell themselves for many years. What are the main faults of their CVs?
Once you have written down your career goals, think who can help you with these. Jot down what information you need, what research, who should you meet and influence. Then, draw up a plan to make it happen this year.
So, how do you pull all this together?