How To Make Sure You Are On The Right Career Trajectory

What makes a good career? In this new era of the gig economy, new career types and scopes are popping up everywhere. There are jobs that didn’t exist 10 years ago that are now more prevalent than ever. Universities follow suit and create additional curriculums to match the needs of our time. According to a study, 65% of children in primary school today will be in jobs that haven’t even been invented yet.

 

For instance, in 2006, there were no social media managers. Social media was not a viable enough marketing channel to devote a full campaign to let alone create full-time roles for it. However, nowadays social media marketing experience is a requirement to be in any marketing leadership positions at most firms. World changes faster than we can imagine.

 

On average, 30% of the workforce change careers every 12 months. It’s the new norm. New roles are created, new startups are initiated. The opportunities are limitless. However, anyone who’s been through a career switch will tell you how exhausting the whole process can be. It is mentally, emotionally, and physically tiresome to change your work routine and environment too frequently. So how do we make sure that we find the right career trajectory?

Getting to Know Who You Are

While you may have a list of criteria and demands you look for in a job, we can guarantee that you probably don’t know yourself as well as you think you do. It’s not just about the minimum salaries, titles, industries, etc. It’s about finding an environment where you will thrive and assessing whether you are a cultural fit or not is a task not many have mastered.

 

Understanding all dimensions of your personality and what environment such combination of traits will thrive in is key in identifying the right trajectory with minimal risk of you being miserable in a role where you spend 50% of your day.

 

What motivates you? What types of communication styles do you find most comfortable? All these things we used to dismiss actually matter and that’s why even employers are utilising a systematic approach to identify candidates based on suitable personality traits to ensure cultural fit. They realise that hiring people who won’t ‘love’ working at their firms cost them unnecessary expenditures and interfere with their abilities to produce desirable outcomes from the employed resources.

 

In addition to knowing aspects of your own personality traits and communication styles, experts recommend finding a mentor that could give you advice on asking the right questions to help you decide on your next step. They can also give you tips on lessons they’ve learned, introduce you to people in their networks, and help you cultivate the right personal brand for your long-term career goals.

Consider the Exit Opportunities

The mistake a lot of people make is that they think about their career trajectory in terms of labels such as VP, Senior VP, Director, Head, etc. You have to go beyond the labels and think about the types of work you want to do. Do you want to be managing a division with its own P&L? Do you like mentoring people or do you want to remain an individual contributor?

 

Based on the descriptions of what you enjoy doing and where you thrive, you can find roles that could fit those descriptions. In addition, never think of your next career as your final destination. Even if it is your dream job, dreams change and you will want more progression, whether vertical or lateral. Thus, you should weigh your options based on exit opportunities. What other roles would require or prefer the experience you’d gain from the role you’re immediately applying for? What are the transferable skills will you attain?

What are the pathways available within the firm?

If your career switch is external, invest heavily into learning as much as you can about the firm. Do they provide subsidies to support employee learning? How easy is internal mobility? Some firms will have official programs encouraging internal mobility whether in roles or geographies. Some make it nearly impossible. Do they normally promote internally or hire externally? Are there minimum requirements for tenure before each promotion?

 

Furthermore, take advantage of the information available online. Websites such as Glassdoor allows employees to anonymously post about their experiences. It’ll give you a sense of the culture there. LinkedIn is another way to connect with previous and/or existing employees for honest feedback. LinkedIn also allows you to determine where the firm’s alumni are headed to (which companies and industries. This will give you a better sense of the exit opportunities and value the firm’s will add to your personal brand/CV.

Alex