By Justine Eden, Director, Eden Ritchie Recruitment
Based on responses to our recent Executive Insight Survey, it seems that most of us seize career progression opportunities as they are presented; overwhelmingly many respondents stated that they did not plan their career.
There is a Benjamin Franklin saying that goes “if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail” and yet here are a large number of individuals who have progressed to the executive ranks despite apparently not having a set plan.
I would argue that ambition is one foundation stone for a successful career, that those who rise through the ranks did plan to be a leader or an influencer of sorts – they just may not have had every step up the ladder laid out. This is probably a good thing as life is about changing and adapting and you can never be rigid or overly structured.
I do believe though, that you need a rationale, you need a compelling reason and you need to be able to articulate your vision. Often as recruiters we meet with applicants coming from a “bad day or week, or year” who have just been alerted to an opportunity that they are perfect for. This may well be the case, but it is critical to have done your research into the role and the organisation.
You need to be able to articulate why you are applying, (not just because you want out of where you currently are) and how this role/organisation links with the experience and capabilities you bring to it. Do not state that you are applying just because of the $ either (yes, some people still do this).
If it is a step up, be able to demonstrate why you are ready and the actions you have taken to build your capabilities. Be able to talk at the strategic level, be able to claim your achievements and contributions by talking in the “I” more than “we” – although throw in the occasional “we” otherwise you may not come across as a team player!
Be able to play it forward, talk about building capability in others as well as your ability to network and building key working connections, internally and externally. I’m not just referring to the interview either, all of this needs to be reflected in your application, your CV, your cover letter and any supporting conversations throughout the process.
Leveraging your network to indeed be in the right position to capitalize on career opportunities is also key, as well as proactively seeking out and making others aware that you are keen for learning and development opportunities.
So much for just good luck, does all of this sound like lots of hard work? Well I also believe “the harder you work the luckier you get”! Go for it.