In March, the wedding fairs start anew with all the hopes of new life; spring lambs, bluebells in the woods and cooing pigeons across the city. But the wiser amongst us will nod sagely and tell us that marriage is so much more than a wedding.
Similarly, university students and those aspiring to chartered professional status will be looking forward to qualifying with new hopes for their working life. But as in marriage, the certificate is just the starting point for the engagement in building a rewarding, satisfying and fruitful working relationship.
So, what do you do as the first passion starts to dull? There are three traditional ladders for most professionals to climb: expert, management or business development.
An obvious ‘expert’ career pathway is in medicine where a hospital doctor follows climbs the ladder to registrar, consultant and ultimately professor of a university medical department and fellow of the relevant Royal College representing a particular specialism.
Consider by way of contrast, a coder who follows a management pathway moving from team leader to project manager, programme manager and director of business transformation rather than the expert route to full stack developer, technical architect and chief technology officer (CTO). Professional service firms can often limit promotion to partner level unless individuals commit to spending an increasing amount of their time responsible for developing new business and achieving sales for the segment they lead.
Working on developing sales proposals engages professionals at senior associate level and a success in making fee earning opportunities and new client relationships is required to reach director, partner and equity partner levels. Ironically, the career path for sales professionals usually follows a management track to manager, regional manager, sales director and ultimately CEO. Only a small proportion becoming expert deal makers.
If you anticipate a traditional career path in your chosen profession, sooner or later you will need to decide which of these three routes you pursue. Examine what you most enjoy doing, keep an eye out for opportunities to move in your preferred direction and ensure you get the training you need to deepen your capability to achieve your goals. Many employers will require you to take psychometric assessments to better understand your personality preferences.
There are a whole swathe of alternatives but I would strongly recommend Strengthfinders from Gallup which avoids the ‘introvert/ extrovert’, ‘thinking/feeling’ polarities of many other assessments and focuses on innate talents which you can build to deep strengths. Remember, whatever path you adopt, to future-proof your career, deepen your communications, presentation, influencing and collaboration skills. Access coaching to develop your emotional intelligence.
But, most importantly, follow your developing interests to deepen the love for what you do. Your passion will make you more attractive and demonstrate you are motivated to make a difference wherever you work. Choosing to deepen the love for what you do.
Charles is founder of FuturePerfect and the Portfolio Executive Growth Academy www.portfolioexecutive.biz
Photograph © Tim Dutton