Key to your professional success


Pro-activeness and planning are the keys to achieving a successful career. That is the view of Gina Davidson HR Executive: Talent Management at Nedbank, who advises South Africans to be career activists.

According to Davidson, when you retire, how you look back on your career depends on how you look forward to it now. “No matter what job you're currently doing, planning for your career future can make all the difference. This means taking charge of your own career and the choices you make regarding it".

While many people change jobs a number of times over the course of their working life, the success of these transitions will largely depend on how well they've planned and prepared for their career.

Too many people go through their working lives without a plan. They land a job, work at it for a period and then, if they're lucky, something better or with higher pay lands in their laps and they grab it with both hands - without a thought for where this new opportunity will take them in their careers, or whether it reflects what they truly want out of the work.

The result of this 'ad hoc' approach to career advancement is seldom satisfying. That's why everyone should take time out to reflect on their career hopes and dreams and should be asking themselves what they really enjoy doing, what type of careers match their personality type and values and ultimately where they would like to see themselves in the future. All that's required is a commitment to spending an hour or two thinking carefully about yourself and your objectives and then taking the time to research the kind of jobs, skills and experiences that you will require in order to reach your ideal role.  Once you have this information you can construct a career path that will allow you to achieve those objectives.

Davidson advises that you ask yourself these questions: Are you happy with your lifestyle? Do you want to maintain it or change it? If you'd like to change it, what changes do you want to make? What are the key characteristics of your ideal lifestyle and does your current career path allow you to have the lifestyle you desire?

“The most important thing to remember about your career plan is that you, and only you, are responsible for your future. Waiting for a promotion or to be recognised and head-hunted by another company is seldom going to get you anywhere,” she believes.

Five career planning secrets

  1. No matter how important your career makes you feel, or how much money it pays, you need to find the job that matches your passions as well.
  2. Stay challenged. Stretch yourself all the time. As soon as you've mastered your current job and feel comfortable with it, seek out new assignments and new challenges. To avoid boredom, keep setting new goals for yourself.
  3. If you’re relatively happy where you are, your career plan might include identifying things that need to get done in your current area and then proposing solutions. People who are known for their problem-solving abilities get most of the opportunities.
  4. Beware of taking a job you know you won’t like as a stepping stone to another job. Too often, such stepping stones end up as millstones around your neck.
  5. If you can align doing what you care about and have a passion for, with what the market wants or needs, you’ve hit on the recipe for career success. It’s not that difficult, but it will take a concerted effort.
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This edition

Issue 68