Career & Work Life Matters, ISSN 2150-6299, Vol 6, no. 4
3 Steps to Choosing the Right Career Conversations (that move you towards your career goals)
Career conversations are at the center of your success as a professional. Follow these 3 steps to make your conversations not only more productive, but also easier and more engaging and enjoyable.
Choose the right “technology”
As a professional, your “technology” includes your skills, experience, and accomplishments. If you’re like most professionals, this is what you think of first when it comes to talking about your career. But what if you’re talking to people who don’t share your background? If you just focus on your expertise, it’s difficult to have a meaningful career conversation.
But what if you broadened your career-related topics to include your interests, values, and work-life goals? Immediately the conversation is more open. There is common ground because your conversation partners don’t need to understand the details of what you do.
There will be a time for focused conversations with potential employers. But don’t miss out on making valuable connections by limiting your conversation too soon.
As a professional looking for opportunities for your next career move, even superior skills are often not enough. It is difficult to get the attention of employers unless you can match what you offer to a need that they see as urgent. This means that it’s essential that you understand what your potential employer is concerned about. How well do you understand their priorities?
If you’re already in the field you probably have a good understanding of employers’ priorities. If you’re unclear, do some research. If your goal is to get promoted within the same organization, be sure that you gather information about the level you aspire to. Their priorities may be different from the ones you are most familiar with.
But what if you are changing direction? How do you get this inside information? One approach is to have conversations with people who are knowledgeable about trends in the fields you are interested in. Now you have valuable information to share with potential employers. Right away you enhance your credibility. It becomes easier to engage in a career conversation.
Pay Attention to the Context
To have successful career conversations you need to take account of the situation. Are you initiating career conversations that fit the context?
If you’ve been disappointed by the outcomes of your networking efforts so far, review your conversations. Do you find yourself expecting to hear about job opportunities in contexts where it makes more sense to have different kinds of conversations?
Try this. Choose one event or situation where you’re likely to have opportunities for career-related conversations. It can be a social or professional situation.
Think about the people that typically attend. If you know the group, you can list them by name. Now write down a few things that they might be interested in. If the group is new to you, make an educated guess. What can you offer that might engage them? It can be simple things, such as information or referrals.
If you’re someone who feels awkward about asking for help, thinking about what you can offer as well as what you might request can help.
Career conversations are at the core of career success. With the right tools, a clear need, in the right context you can set yourself up for success.
|Jennifer Bradley, PhD helps professionals lead their own careers, empowered with the information, tools, and resources that they need. She offers individual coaching and consulting, teaches classes, and publishes articles on career development and career transition.
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