How To Develop Your Career Sense
From my two previous articles on career sense, I hope you have a clearer idea now about why career sense is so essential to your success and what exactly is career sense. Now comes the big, money question. How do you develop your career sense, or your Career Success IQ (CSIQ)?
Like most people, my career sense was terrible early in my career. But that’s typical of everyone who’s starting out. You lack experience and your understanding of the real world and how to become successful in it are simple and even naïve. When it became clear to me that I needed to improve that understanding, I began paying more attention to many things. Here are five key things I did that helped me improve my career sense.
Become a student of success
Early on, I realized that if I wanted to become more successful I needed to have a deeper sense of how career success is achieved. I needed to understand the things that allow some people to achieve greater success over others. In short, I needed to become a student of success. Developing your career sense begins with having this fundamental orientation.
For me, this meant not just doing things because others are telling me that I’m supposed to do it. And not being a taskmaster without a good understanding of the purpose of what I’m doing. Beyond just understanding what I should do, it meant also understanding how and why and I should do it. To gain this level of understanding, I taught myself to not just ask the what questions, but more importantly, the how and why ones.
Get outside your own head and into the head of others
The reality is, you don’t hire or promote yourself. You don’t approve your own salary or give yourself new opportunities. It’s others who make these decisions and determine your success.
With a clear understanding of this, I began to pay more attention to what my boss, my management, and top employers, in general, valued and cared about most when assessing top talent. I tried to identify the things that separated average from outstanding candidates in their eyes and that would most help me stand out over others.
Too many candidates I meet care too much about what they think and how they view things. They don’t pay nearly as much attention to what others think. But to be more successful in your job and career, you need to first recognize those qualities, capabilities, and achievements that matter most to the key decision-makers who can determine your success. Improving your career sense also begins with this basic understanding and orientation.
Tap into the minds of successful people
Want to speed up your development and ability to achieve your career objectives? Actually, it’s simple. Learn from those who already do well what you also want to do well. I also recognized early on that I didn’t have to reinvent, discover, or figure out new ways to do the things I wanted to do well. Best practices, good habits, and smart approaches already existed. I just needed to find ways to identify, understand, and copy how others do things who are successful at what they do.
One candidate told me how he found himself sitting next to a VP in his company at an event and asked him about his career. “It was the first time I ever asked this to someone so senior. But he was very willing to telling me about his daily job and how he managed his role,” he described. “Our conversation really helped give me a better understanding of the issues he has to deal with and how tough it is to perform as a senior executive, including the expectations he needed to meet from his top management. That helped me know what I needed to do to prepare myself if I wanted to take on his level of responsibility someday.”
Of course, first-hand experience will develop your understanding of key roles and situations that you want to perform well in. But another fast, effective way to learn what it takes to become successful in the situations you’re in or hope to be in someday is to learn from the experience and insights of those you interact with and meet.
Identify and follow tried and true career success concepts
The key success factors to doing something well are typically captured in proven concepts and approaches to doing it well. So I also tried to learn from others what some of these key career success concepts and approaches are. Like everything else, career success is rooted in basic truths and realities that lead to greater success. Here are just a few that I learned early on and often share now with those I coach.
Your career lasts a long time
•Everything you do today impacts what you can achieve tomorrow
• Good career decisions aren’t about good or bad, or right or wrong. They're relative to what’s most important to you.
•Your platform’s limitations will also be your limitations
•Your qualifications and credentials may get you the interview, but it's the quality of your experience that gets you the job
• It's not about how much you care or how hard you work, it's about how well you do your job.
• We'll pay for value
• It's much more difficult to become successful at what you don’t enjoy than what you enjoy
Understanding and embracing basic career success concepts help you make much better job choices and career decisions, and take a more solid approach to your career, overall. What are the career success concepts that you follow and live by?
Understand that everything is relative – Everyone has a mom and dad who wants the best for you. We all have friends, colleagues, relatives, and mentors who want us to be successful and happy. But whatever guidance and advice that you’re given, you have to weigh it against your own personality, interests, priorities, career objectives, and view of success. Because it’s all relative.
For instance, if I offered 10 people the same job, maybe five would accept it and five would reject it. Maybe eight, five, two, or even nobody would accept the offer. No matter which scenario, nobody’s decision can be viewed as right or wrong, or good or bad. It all depends on each person and what he’s looking for. That’s important to understand when you’re making potentially life-changing job moves and career decisions.
Seeking career advice and gaining career insights from others is something I did a lot early in my career. And I respected and appreciated everything others shared with me. At the same time, I also understood that it was up to me to decide how to assess and apply the guidance and advice that I was being given. Because in the end, they’re not you
Developing your career sense isn’t rocket science. It’s a
process. It takes time. You need to be curious about what making good
career choices, capturing better opportunities, performing better in
your job, achieving the next level of your career, standing out over
others, etc. involves. You need to talk to successful people and
understand how they do things. And then develop your own solid approach
to pursuing your own success. Because ultimately, nobody is
going to care more about or have more of an impact on your career
success than you. That’s why improving your career sense, or Career Success IQ (CSIQ), is so essential if achieving greater success is your objective.