JL Careers Blog

Getting More of What You Want in Your Career

Where is your career right now? Are you on or off-course? Are you leveraging your strengths to build a rewarding career, or feeling a bit trapped and doing work that doesn't energize you? If you are feeling siloed and underutilizing your talents, this article will provide you with strategies to unleash your talent.

First - Identify Your Strengths:  What do you naturally excel at? What are your talents?

Get started by identifying your strengths - your talents, things you are naturally good at, and skills you truly enjoy using. This is the first step in rebranding yourself and creating more of the work you love. People that build rewarding careers, readily and often communicate their strengths so they can get work tasks more aligned to their talents.

  • Consider your current and previous jobs, as well as your volunteer work: What activities are energizing and engaging?
  • Identify your key accomplishments: Review projects and tasks that you readily excel at.
  • Do an informal 360: Ask your manager, mentors, colleagues, staff and clients for feedback. Ask: "How do I add the most value to your work or our team? What do you perceive are some of my strengths that I bring to our organization?"

Recommended reading to help you discover your strengths: Marcus Buckingham's: Now, Discover Your Strengths.

Get Clear:  What do you really want?

When we engage in work aligned with our strengths, time flies by. In Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes this work state as: "the suspension of time, the freedom of complete absorption in activity". One emerges from this state renewed and reenergized from doing work aligned to their strengths.

Take a moment to analyze what percentage of your day are you engaged in 'flow' activities. Weigh this against the amount of time engaged in tasks that drain you. Then, ask yourself: "Am I using enough of my strengths in my current work, or is more of my time spent in tasks that deplete me?" Now, make a choice: Do you want to continue as such, or are you stepping up to develop a more fulfilling career?

Leverage your Strengths:  Strategies to Free Yourself Up

Strengths-based work alignment is a strategy many high performance organizations, including Best Buy/Future Shop, use to align employee strengths with key business objectives and related work tasks. But, if you aren't in a strengths-based organization, you can still leverage your strengths to line up work that is more energizing.

To get more of what you want, identify opportunities within your organization to use your strengths. Look for upcoming projects and committees which need your strengths, or new business processes or programs that you can introduce to your business group.

Next, request a meeting with your manager to discuss your strengths. Outline that you have been working on assessing your strengths, and have identified key areas where you add the most
value to the organization. During this meeting discuss your strengths and provide examples of your results. To help you get started I recommend reading Marcus Buckingham's: Go Put Your Strengths to Work.

After outlining your strengths, request the opportunity to focus more of your time on tasks related to your strengths, as this is where you contribute most to the organization's objectives. Most managers will want to support you, but their concern will be: "What about the other job tasks that you are responsible for?"
Address this question by suggesting that selected work tasks which are not in your zone of strength (i.e. your weaknesses) are transitioned to someone on your team that naturally excels in this area. Explain that by doing this the business unit is able to accelerate its overall performance.

Ok, I know you are saying this is could be a CLM (career limiting move)! Maybe yes; maybe no. But more importantly, weigh: What is the cost to you if you don't ask; if things don't change?

Most managers want to support your career growth, but they often lack the time to align tasks and projects to optimize your strengths. They need your help. Offer your manager strategies to remedy the situation so they can partner with you to help you get more of what you want in your career.

Good luck with your conversations!

Joanne - JL Careers

 

Measure your Career Quotient

Adapted with permission from “What’s Your CQ?” by E. Fleeham, Chemical Engineering Progress, Copyrights 1999 AIChE

Is your career on-track or off-track? Your Career Quotient measures how well you are managing your career.  Circle your answer for each question, then use the scoring guide below to evaluate your CQ. 
 

  1. Career Satisfaction:  Currently, I am  (a) on track with my career,  (b) a bit bored and coasting   (c)  disengaged and needing a new career direction or challenge.
     
  2. I wrote a formal Career Plan, (a) in the last 12 months,  (b) more than a year ago,  (c) never.
     
  3. I completed a formal survey of my professional Skills and personal Values  (a) during the last year, (b) more than a year ago,  (c) never. 
     
  4. My Resume is  (a) 3 months old,  (b) 12 months old,  (c) more than
    1 year old.
     
  5. I keep an up-to-date Professional Portfolio of my performance – accomplishments, achievements, and special projects.  (a) Yes,  (b) No.
     
  6. (a) I have a strong network where I work,  (b) I don’t have an internal network.
     
  7. I make  (a) about 2 Networking Contacts weekly,  (b) about 1 networking contact weekly,  (c) networking contacts only when there’s a need,  (d) I don’t have time for networking.
     
  8. To keep my career on track, I ask for new projects and tasks, 
    (a) every 3-6 months,  (b) yearly,  (c) never.  
     
  9. Professional Development:  Last year, I led a technical or professional organizational committee, attended 2+ technical meetings, attended a workshop or conference. 
    (a)  2 or more,  (b) 1 of these,  (c)  none of these. 
     
  10. Mentoring and Championing:  My boss is aware of my career aspirations,  I have a mentor,  I have champions within my organization who support my career development:   (a) all of these,  (b) 2 of these,  (c)  1 of these,  (d) none of these.
     

Scoring:

1.   a = 2    b = 1     c = 0                  2.   a = 2  b = 1  c = 0

3.   a = 2    b = 1     c = 0                  4.   a = 2  b = 1  c = 0   

5.   a = 1    b = 0                                6.   a = 1  b = 0

7.   a = 2    b = 1    c = 0   d = -1      8.   a = 2    b = 1    c = 0

9.   a = 2  b = 1  c = 0                       10. a = 3    b = 2    c = 1    d = 0 
 


How did you rate?

If you scored:

19 or more:
Very strong CQ!  Congratulations; you are effectively managing your career.

13 to 18:
Above average.  You only need minor adjustments to increase your CQ.

7 to 12:
Average. Are you coasting in your current job or frustrated that you’re not advancing?  Focus on developing 1 or 2 of the above CQ areas.

Below 7:
Your career is off-track, or is heading that way. Consider devoting more energy and effort to managing and shaping your career.  Identify 1 thing you can do this week to re-ignite your           career.

   Increase your CQ and Career Success:

A Career Coach will help you get unstuck and start getting more of what you want in your career.  Email me today for for a complimentary 20-minute Career Consultation:  info@jlcareers.com    

 Joanne
Joanne Loberg
JL Careers Inc.
Certified Executive Coach /
Internationally Certified Career Management Professional

 

    

Strategies for Career Success: Ready for your next career move?

Author: Joanne Loberg – JL Careers. This article was written for the CGAs of BC and published in CGA-BC’s Outlook magazine

Joanne Loberg of JL Careers interviews leading industry recruiters from Robert Half, Aplin Professional, and Horizon Recruitment and captures key tactics to building a successful and highly rewarding career:

Ready for your next career move?  Building a successful career in financial leadership involves more than great work experience; it involves a tailored career plan, marketing tools and strategically leveraging your career to enhance your profile within and beyond your organization.

CREATE A CAREER PLAN 

The old adage “Keep your head down and work hard” doesn’t necessarily help you build a career as a financial leader. Instead, Recruitment Team Lead Jim Huynh of Horizon Recruitment (formerly WPCG Finance & Professional Recruitment) advises you to “develop a plan and know where you want to get in 5 to 15 years.”

BE A ROCK STAR

Do your job well and consistently outperform your performance objectives. Not sure if your performance is on track? Don’t wait for your annual performance review, ask your manager for feedback and suggestions now to help you develop your expertise.

SHOW INITIATIVE

Increase your profile by speaking up in team and organization-wide meetings. Suggest strategies to tackle old problems and improve processes. Volunteer to take on projects − the more complex and challenging, the better.

COMMIT TO PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Read what your leaders are reading. Notice the reading material on your senior leaders’ desks. Commit yourself to keeping abreast of the broader issues impacting organizations and fine-tune your technical expertise accordingly. Consider the CGA-BC Certificate in Executive Leadership to strengthen your strategic planning, communication, project and team management, and critical decision-making skills.

BUILD A SPHERE OF INFLUENCE

Success rarely happens in isolation. Jim Huynh works with successful financial leaders and advises emerging leaders to leverage their careers by focusing on “building a sphere of influence while fostering connections and growing their reputation beyond their work groups.”

GET A MENTOR

The Corporate Leadership Council surveyed CEOs of Fortune 500 organizations and discovered that one of the top reasons CEOs believed they were successful was having a mentor. Mentors guide and direct you, and provide critical strategies to navigate and advance your career.

RAISE YOUR PROFILE IN YOUR ORGANIZATION AND BEYOND

Individuals who rise to the top typically have rich networks. Network with other business units to find out about their financial reporting needs and how your division can better serve them. Outside your organization, use the professional networking site LinkedIn to build your network. As an extra bonus, LinkedIn is actively used by recruiters to source top talent. Lastly, join a Board (www.boardmatch.org) so that you can expand your network and build your leadership skills.

COMMUNICATE YOUR SUCCESS

In conversations within your business unit and with key decision makers, keep others apprised of key projects you have taken on, as well as your successes.  Next time you’re in the elevator and a senior leader asks how you are doing, talk about key projects or initiatives you are involved with. For example, “Things are going well. I’ve just begun implementing new financial reporting software that will greatly improve our tracking of financial performance within our branch offices.”

BE A GREAT PEOPLE MANAGER

Advance your people management skills: ask your manager for the opportunity to manage larger teams. Look for opportunities to turn around team performance, coach and develop employees, conduct performance conversations and terminations (when necessary), and drive teams to successfully tackle key projects. Develop a reputation for building high-performance work teams and engaged employees.

LEARN THE ART OF INFLUENCING

Patricia Hazelwood, Division Director of Robert Half Finance & Accounting, specifically looks for candidates with well-honed listening skills, since “listening is important to management as you must listen to your team” in order to influence change. She is also looking for candidates who are decisive, articulate communicators without being arrogant or pushy. In her words, it’s all about “relationship management.”  Top candidates have a track record of building strong relationships throughout the organization, which enable them to influence and drive change.

FINE-TUNE YOUR MARKETING TOOLS

Critical to career success in today’s highly competitive market is a well-crafted, accomplishment-based resumé. Set yourself apart by highlighting your results, such as managing large or complex projects, implementing IT systems and suggesting strategies to improve financial reporting and increase efficiency. Where possible, quantify your results.

POLISH YOUR INTERVIEW SKILLS

Diane Kerley, National Practice Leader of Accounting & Finance at Aplin Professional, states it is imperative that you consistently put your best foot forward. She looks for a “great attitude, enthusiasm and good communication skills.” If nerves get the best of you, engage in interview coaching with a career coach. If you lack confidence and clarity when communicating, she recommends attending a Toastmasters group.

Kerley also advises you to know your resumé inside and out, as well as your key accomplishments. Successful interview candidates are able to readily discuss their successes and sprinkle these throughout their interviews. During interviews, present examples of your accomplishments related to process improvement, project management, team leadership and other contributions to the top- and bottom-line performance of the organization.

All three recruiters advise that you be prepared for these commonly asked questions (which typically are poorly answered):

“Tell me about yourself.” (Ensure your answer is relevant to the role you are applying for.)

“Why do you want to work for us?”

“What do you know about us?”

“Walk us through your resumé.” (Talk about your key accomplishments within each role.)

Create a well-defined career plan, establish a track record of solid performance, take on new projects, develop your sphere of influence and ensure your key accomplishments are captured in your resumé and presented during your interviews. Lastly, Jim Huynh says “don’t be afraid of change” in order to leverage your career and reach your goals. 

Wishing you much career success!

Joanne

Joanne Loberg of JL Careers Inc. is a Certified Executive Coach and Internationally Certified Career Management Professional. She specializes in working with professional and executive clients to provide job search strategies and tools including career testing, professional resumes, LinkedIn profiles, targeted cover letters, and interview strategies and practice.

Building a Career Development Roadmap for Your Organization

Author: Joanne Loberg, BA. CMP, CEC JL Careers

Following up from my Career Planning – What Savvy Employers are doing to Attract, Retain and Engage Employees presentation at the BC Human Resource Management Association - North Shore Roundtable, here is a guideline to assist you in determining next steps should you wish to build a Career Development Roadmap for Your Organization:


Progressive organizations including Microsoft, Boeing, Deloitte and many multinational firms are addressing succession planning, employee engagement and talent retention issues through the use of Career Development Programs.

PROFIT Magazine identified that high performance firms (min 10% net profit, 15% annual growth) have developed comprehensive Career Development Programs, which encompass:

Employee Engagement and Talent Development:

  • Managers have engaged in career conversations with their employees, and career action plans are developed
  • Training and development opportunities are provided to support employee career growth

Succession Planning:

  • High performers are identified; their career goals are discussed and supported with development activities.

If you are interested in creating a Career Development Program within your organization, consider the following:

1. Do an HR Audit

Firstly, consider the issues impacting your organization:

Workforce Shrinkage due to Retirement:

  • What percentage of your workforce is eligible for retirement in the next 3-5 years?
  • As part of your succession planning, have you identified your emerging leaders for these future vacancies?

Your High Performers – Minimizing Flight Risks:

  • To mitigate employee turnover have your high performers as well as your high potential employees engaged in career conversations with their managers, including a discussion of their career aspirations and development needs?
  • Have these goals been captured in career action plans which are reviewed by both management and Human Resources?

Employee Engagement and Your OES Results:

  • Are your employees committed to your organization, satisfied with their careers and engaged in their work?
  • The Corporate Leadership Council studied Fortune 500 organizations and found 11% of employees are committed to the organization; 27% are leaning towards commitment; 29% are neutral; 20% are leaning towards non-commitment, and 13% are non-committed to the organization and their job.
  • Do your managers regularly conduct career conversations as a means to engaging their employees?

Job Satisfaction and Health Benefit Claims:

  • Health benefits providers are now reporting a correlation between job satisfaction and disability claims. What percentage of your claims are related to 'job dissatisfaction'?

2. Identify Career Resources and Tools

You have done the critical research and assessed your organizational needs. Now map out what resources and tools you will need to implement a Career Development Program. Resources include:

  • Career Resources for your managers and employees. Resources include: job descriptions, career paths, GAP analysis, leadership competencies, information interviews, mentoring, training calendars, acting assignments, projects, volunteering, career assessments, HR Career Coaching, an employee career portal, and a corporate career library.
  • Career Development Workshops including interviewing skills, resume and cover letter writing, and career exploration workshops.
  • Conducting Career Development Conversations – Managers TrainingWorkshops. Training should include strategies for dealing with the career development issues of your long-term employees, emerging leaders, career changers as well as issues related to job dissatisfaction and entitlement.

3. Championing from your Executive team – The Executive Briefing

A sustainable Career Development Program must be recognized as part of the strategic Human Resources mandate for the organization's short and long-term success.

Use your HR Audit to provide an Executive Briefing outlining the costs incurred in your organization related to employee engagement and job satisfaction, staff turnover and leadership gaps. Then propose how a Career Development Program can mitigate these risks.

 

All the best with your audit and development, and please keep in mind that JL Careers is here to help you. We provide leading-edge career development resources, models and the Manager’s Guide to Conducting Career Development Conversations workshop, in addition to career and leadership coaching.

 

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JL Careers provides Career and Leadership Coaching, Career Development Workshops, and Career Transition Services which support organizational succession planning, leadership development and employee engagement strategies.