Career Planning is one of the Top 10 Topics listed on Harvard Business Review. Career Selection is one of the 4 Major Life Decisions a student makes throughout his/her lifetime. The other 3 are buying a house, choosing a life partner, and financial planning. In this article, we will look at the 7 Core Principles that every career aspirant must know if you intend to move forward with the times and achieve your career goals.
1 GOAL SETTING
One of the most underrated yet the most crucial step in doing almost anything – Goal Setting or in simpler words, being clear about where you want to go and how you intend to get there is an extremely crucial step in your career-building journey.
Why you may ask?
Imagine this: In your hands, you the keys to a luxurious, top of the line, custom made Lamborghini with a full tank.
How do you feel? Top of the world right? Now, let me ask you this…. Where would you take it for a spin? Almost anywhere and everywhere around town right?
Now imagine this…. In the dashboard of your custom made Lamborghini is a clearly marked map of your next destination. Not just any destination is the map to a place where you will get a higher model and upgraded model of your Lamborghini. Get it?
Planning for your career works in the exact same way. Your Lamborghini is your skill, the Customizations is your unique personality and characteristics and the full tank is your energy and enthusiasm to achieve results. You are already sitting in a Lamborghini.
All you need is a clearly marked out map…. A map to your destination. The Goal Setting process helps you do just that.
It is proven over time that people who have a clearly written goal are 30 times more likely to achieve it than people with no goals.
The best way to write down your goals is to use the SMART Goals method
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Attainable or Achievable
R – Realistic or Relevant
T – Time-Bound or Timely
Lookup a SMART Goal Template or if you need one feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn.
2 KNOW YOURSELF
So you have your goals written down and you now are clearer on your destination (Career Goal) now let’s open the easiest path for you to reach your destination.
The most common mistake people make when starting off their career (or even decades into it) is that they try to mirror or rather copy what others around them are doing without realising that what works for others may not work for you. No, am not saying that we do not learn from others, all I am saying is to learn and not copy.
Your strengths are a combination of your:
4. Vocational Preference
5. Emotional Quotient (EQ).
Begin to learn more about each of these aspects and you will be able to clearly identify your strengths.
For example: if your personality is “Social” then working in isolation will directly affect your emotional state and of course the work that you produce.
Here’s another example: If you have a low “Numerical” aptitude and you pursue a career where you are required to work with numbers day in and day out, take a guess of how you are going to feel throughout the day however if your “Spatial” aptitude is strong and you are working in a creative space – You Will Excel !!!!
Know your strengths and Build on Them – Your Lamborghini will fly through to your destination.
3 SELF BRANDING
This is all about how you stand out from the rest. We are talking about making it easy for the rest of the world to know who you are, what you do, what you are great at, and how you can help them.
Don’t ignore this if you are a college student or in your early 20’s. Sooner you start the better, especially now when practically everything is online.
Here are 4 things that are absolutely essential for self-branding:
- YOUR MESSAGE: Who you are, What you Do, Whom do you want to help, and How you can help them.
- YOUR IMAGE: Perceptions matter. What do you want people to think when they see a picture of you on your resume, LinkedIn, social bio, or any platform for that matter. Get a good clear professionally shot photograph done for your digital profile
- YOUR PERSONALITY: Be your authentic self in your articles, videos, blogs, resume, posts just about anything that you put out on social or professional media.
- ADD VALUE: Here is where your mindset will matter a lot. You have to start giving out value first before you start expecting anything in return. Giving out value while building a career?
That doesn’t make sense. Read Number 4 and you will know what I mean.
4 SHOWCASE YOUR SKILLS
One of the ways of attracting recruiters is to keep pushing your pale resume out to them over and over in hope of getting noticed.
The other way is to attract them to you instead. Sounds cool, doesn’t it?
Keep in mind that the best way to land your dream job or an assignment is to be referred by someone. A reference has a greater chance of surviving the resume rat race than any other path that you take.
Now, how do you create a referral? How do you get someone unknown to know about your work and feel confident about talking you up for a job or an assignment?
Simple, Showcase Your Skills. The “Someone” has to see you, get to know you through your profile, Know your skills through your content, and ultimately know what you are looking for.
Here are 5 STEPS to get started right away:
Step 1: Use available platforms: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Quora, Twitter, YouTube, Free blogging sites
Step 2: Write down 5 things that you are confident to talk or write about
Step 3: Start creating content (don’t think much) just start and publish
Step 4: Don’t look at the stats until you have published at least 10 pieces of content
Step 5: Repeat Step 3
If you are a college student, an early professional or a seasoned professional this strategy will work for your irrespective of age, experience, industry or even language.
Remember, the idea here is to “ATTRACT” not “ATTACK”.
5 KEEP UPGRADING
As you move forward through your career journey you will find that your old skills will stop serving you as effectively as they used to. Be it something as simple as MS-Office or something really high end.
Here are 5 Skills that you MUST acquire to cut through the clutter :
Skill #1: Writing
This is the best way to express yourself and get noticed, especially if you are not comfortable with recording a video. Write an article, a blog a story, a “How To…” article, a self-help guide, an E-book, a poem or even about incidents that have taught you something. Over an above the marketing aspect, writing a page daily also helps you clear your mind and make room for new thoughts. This very article you are reading is a result of a similar exercise.
Skill #2: Video Logging (Vlogging)
Videos are the best medium to get your message across and a sure shot way to avoid misinterpretation of your message. Learning this skill will not only improve your chances of getting noticed but once you get good at it, it could create a parallel opportunities for you as well.
Skill #3: Networking
Master this skill and you will be able to magnify your influence every day. LinkedIn is the most trusted and most widely used professional networking platform in the world. Get down and start using it. Dedicate at least 30 to 45 mins to LinkedIn every day to intentionally grow your network and building meaningful professional relationships.
Skill #4: Get industry certification or accreditation.
The most common yet highly valued certifications are:
- Six Sigma (SSB)
- Project Management Professional (PMP)
- Microsoft Tools (Master Certification)
- NLP Practitioner
- Global Facilitation Skills (City & Guilds)
- Agile Certification
Find the one that will take you to the next level or will add credibility to your profile.
6 GROW YOUR NETWORK
Your Network is Your Net Worth – Tim Sanders
Network Intentionally, Professionally and Emotionally.
Look at networking as an act of planting seeds and watering them every day. Just as the law of nature works, every seed will grow and bear fruit if you water it regularly and give it the needed nutrition.
Have clear goals for your networking efforts, such as:
- Find Common Connections
- Connect with mentors / professionals / industry leaders
- Build Your Tribe (Followership)
- Build connections for job prospects
- Invite for collaborations / partnerships
Remember, Each of your networking goals will need a different strategy or approach.
7 FAIL FORWARD (Growth MindSet)
While you apply the above 6 Core Principles in your Career Building journey always remember that #7 is an over-arching principle that has the potential to change the game for you.
Change is Hard at first, Messy in the middle and Gorgeous at the end – Robin Sharma
While you are trying new things you are also embedding new habits and new habits are difficult to form. So be prepared for going through a rough patch in the beginning.
5 Things that will keep you going:
- Learn From Your Failure
- Focus on Opportunities and Solutions
- Be Persistent
- Try New Things
- Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself
In summary, your career building journey is the same as any other project you work on, just that we never treat it like one. Just as you go through a planning, execution and measuring process in any project, your career needs the same amount of attention to detail.
It has taken me over 18 years of working with fortune 500 companies to boil it down to these 7 Core Foundation Principles that will help every student and early professional in building their unshakeable career.