The start of the year is great for goal setting and planning what you’d like to do better on the job. Here are four simple tips to help you start strategising career progression pathways in 2022.
1. Assess your skillset
Our skillset underpins our ability on the job, but how often do we make a list of all the things we can do? Taking note of the skills we have versus those we need, is a good way to design our work aims and build steps to achieve them.
For example, we might be good at graphics, though it’s not officially part of our job. But can that skill add value to our current role? Or should we zero-in to improve the skills we use every day?
Doing this kind of skills stocktake helps prove why we’re assets to our teams, while also showing up gaps we might need to fill.
Workplace expert and author of books like Career Leap and Bad Boss Michelle Gibbings says that when it comes to your skills, it’s important to keep an eye on external changes, while staying sharp to your specific area.
The world has definitely changed over the past couple of years and it will continue to changeMichelle Gibbings
‘So it’s important to ask yourself: ‘How is my industry changing, and how is my profession changing in relation to that? And then, what does that mean for my skillset?,’ Gibbings told ScreenHub.
Gibbings also said that once you’re familiar with your skills gaps, there are surprisingly accessible ways to address them: ‘There’s a lot of access to information and data out there,’ she commented. ‘MOOCs [Massive Open Online Courses] can be really great,’ she continued. ‘And they can give you access to institutions from around the world, and sometimes those courses are free.’
2. Create your career team
Now we’ve got a skills-map to guide our way to improvement, it’s time to look at the people who can bolster us towards our goals.
‘I always say, listen to people who know,’ Gibbings advised. ‘There can be a lot of people who can be well meaning and can give you advice, but their advice isn’t very helpful, because they don’t know the industry,’ she added.
The author also said that when planning career talks, it’s good to think about what you’re seeking from each person and why.
I often talk about what I call a ‘career advisory board’, and that will encompass a few different people.Michelle Gibbings
‘The first is a mentor,’ she continued. ‘They are someone who has been where you want to get to and are able to give you those insights and ideas about what it actually means to have that type of role, and how do you get there.’
‘Then you might have someone who is more of a sponsor,’ she continued. ‘A sponsor is someone who is more senior in the organisation. They have influence, and they have the ability to speak for you when you are not in the room – so a sponsor advocates for you.’
Gibbings said there might also be some ‘coaches’ by your side to help navigate challenges, tackle road blocks or make big career decisions. And finally, there are industry insiders who can help connect you to right people.
Then, it’s about building strong relationships with this range of people is best for meaningful and effective career support. ‘Those relationships should have depth and meaning,’ Gibbings commented. ‘You don’t want them to feel transactional.’
3. Plan for the big talks
This part of your game plan can feel a little less palatable than planning drinks with career coaches. This one is about your next performance review and ‘those talks’ with your boss. Gibbings says good preparation and good timing can be keys to successful outcomes for both parties in performance review or salary negotiations.
‘You want to broach the subject with your boss when you think they are going to be the most receptive to it, and go in with your facts and data ready,’ she said.
Gibbings says that your prepared facts and data should focus on your good performance on the job, but it must go beyond a simple list of your achievements. Rather, you should present your case with specificity to your company’s goals wherever possible.
‘Ask yourself, how have my skills increased? What is it that I’ve delivered over the past 12 months that has really helped the organisation progress, and what have I delivered that has helped the team achieve its goals?,’ she said.
‘Also, recognise that it’s a negotiation,’ she added. ‘Understand your objective and then understand what your boss’ objective might be. Also remember to ask yourself what you think your bosses objection points might be, so when roadblocks come up, you can say, “Yes, I’ve also thought about that… and, if you can’t do this, then what about this?”.
‘Make sure you go in with options, rather than one fixed outcome,’ she concluded.
4. The value of your CV
Finally, whether you are suitably employed or searching for the next gig, your CV is a trusty staple in your back pocket. But in this age of LinkedIn and tweets, is the formal CV document relevant enough anymore?
Michelle Gibbings says yes. Even though many industries now use LinkedIn as their main go-to, a well-presented, up-to-date CV will always be an important part of an employer’s recruitment checklist.
But she advises the CV should be written with a specific pitch in mind: ‘It needs to be tailored to your audience,’ she said. ‘And what always needs to be front and centre is your value proposition. That means articulating what value you bring through the work that you do. What do you stand for? What matters to you? and why are you interested in this piece of work?.’
And when it comes to public profiles, Gibbings says that social media is a great tool for exposure, but it’s impossible to be everywhere at once.
‘[Your social media] should be fit for purpose,’ she advised. ‘Know the platform and know who uses it, and therefore know why you would want to invest time in it. Some will add value for you more than others, and if you don’t think carefully about it, you could spend a lot of time and not a lot of return if you are across every single platform. So pick the platform that works for your sector,’ she concluded.
So, whatever 2022 has in store, if you can do a timely health-check of your skill set, reflect on and connect with your best contacts, and get set for some key conversations, you’re well on your way to a great 12 months at work.