As individuals get into the corporate world, they start off their careers for the foreseeable future. However, as they progress in their various endeavours, they tend to do less of the things they did before starting their careers. There are several reasons for this: Age advancement, tight schedules, personal responsibilities etc. However, these do not mean one’s career should not be progressed further even beyond promotion. Man’s needs are insatiable and everyone is looking for the next big thing – the above reasons become obstacles. We have senior staff leaving a firm in Industry A to another in Industry B – career change and development. Imagine moving from First Bank as Head of International Banking to McKinsey & Company as a partner? Topsy St-Matthew Daniel did it and many others. Now, that is taking your career to the next level. Here are ten things to do to aid the process.
- GET YOUR CV REVIEWED AND REWRITTEN
This is vital as the CV approach used in starting one’s career cannot for career progression. Your CV needs a revamp to ensure it gets to the front door of reputable companies. You have spent five years in an industry and desire for a change? It is not advisable to use the same approach for your present industry to another. It has to be different. No two industries are the same no matter the role advertised. You are a PR manager in a consumer goods company and desire to move to the oil industry as a PR manager? There ought to be a change in the way your CV is present. This also applies to cover letters.
GET A PROFESSIONAL LINKEDIN PROFILE
It might seem reasonable for a fresh graduate not have a professional LinkedIn account, but not so for someone with five years’ experience in a company. A LinkedIn account tells the world who you are – professionally – and the achievements you have. A LinkedIn account is more comprehensive than a paper-based CV. How? It displays your professional history, awards, companies worked with, publications (with verifiable evidence at a click), recommendations from colleagues and associates, pictorial and graphical examples of what you have done and lots more. Preparing such a profile is not a day’s activity; it takes time, dedication and resources to pull it off especially for a tyro to the site and how they can benefit from it. Getting experts to aid in this will go a long way to ensuring success is achieved.
- APPLY TO TOP ORGANISATIONS
As expected, this is what most people see as advancing their career – moving from a top organisation to another across industries. Just like Topsy St-Matthew Daniel, most people would love to climb the ladder to bigger firms in their industry or other industries. This can aid one’s career by providing an international exposure, training, perks, and developmental courses. Imagine moving from Sahara Group to Glencore? Or from Dangote to General Electric? Or University of Lagos to University of Cape Town? Applying to top organisations require relevant and most times cognate experiences, ditto other top qualifications.
- SUBSCRIBE TO INTERVIEW AND TECHNICAL ASSESSMENT PREPPING. THINGS HAVE CHANGED
Yes! The interview process you passed five or seven years ago cannot be similar to the present interview for your next career advancement. Things have changed; the process, skills required, mannerism, approach, information etc. Look at interview coaching as being tutored on how to pass IELTS or GRE. Being tutored on writing those exams does not imply you do not know the English language or basic elementary studies. It simply connotes you want to perform at optimum and leave no room for chances. Ditto for interview prepping, where you get prepped for interviews and assessment centres’ exercises by experts on what to do; how to do; the entire thought process during an interview and assessment centre is explained and your chances get increased – exponentially.
- JOIN CAREER GROUPS ONLINE AND OFFLINE
It is said that one’s network is his/her networth and information is power. These factors – networth and information – are vital in career advancement. Humans are involved in recruitment processes not robots, ditto information which aids one to be at the top of the ladder . Lots of individuals have gotten jobs via WhatsApp groups by simply applying to roles shared in the page. Also, information regarding various companies’ recruitment processes – format of aptitude tests’ and interviews are shared in such groups. The writer recently got to know about Procter & Gamble Nigeria’s test format to be GMAT on a KPMG Graduate Trainee WhatsApp group. That is a quick and ready-made information. Meet new people daily; hold logical conversations and make invaluable contacts that might become helpful. While benefiting from these relationships, also contribute to them and aid in one’s career advancement. See it as a rub off effect.
- GO FOR FURTHER STUDIES OR RELEVANT CERTIFICATIONS
As you progress in your career, you will need to upgrade your skill set and educational qualifications, ditto relevant certifications. As an accountant, you have an ICAN/ACCA, but if you desire a career progression to a higher level in finance. You might need to write the CFA exams and become certified to be eligible for such roles which increases your chances or you want be in a managerial position in the future, an MBA becomes more of a necessity than an option. An added degree from a notable institution increases your value and opens a window of opportunities both home and abroad. Advancing your studies should be done with a mind-set of learning new things, expanding one’s network and adding value to organisations. Additionally, a relevant certification in technical sectors like ICT, architecture, engineering amidst others gives credence to your professional works thereby increasing the opportunities for exploits as an individual.
- CONSIDER STARTING A SIDE BUSINESS INDIVIDUALLY/WITH RELIABLE PARTNERS OR BEING A CONSULTANT IN YOUR AREA OF EXPERTISE
You have a wealth of experience in an industry and such is not readily available. Have you thought about using that knowledge and contacts made over the years and contributing towards a new business in exchange for an equity? There are many new businesses in dire need of experienced folks offering their finance or skills in exchange for guidance. Think of something like a being a non-executive director for a start-up or ploughing funds into a business with a reliable and honest partner(s) while providing managerial and business advice. Through this way, you fulfil the entrepreneurial dreams you might have; contribute to society and expand your knowledge output while at the same time making money.
- VOLUNTEER FOR NOTABLE CAUSES IN SOCIAL ORGANISATIONS
Volunteering adds to your career profile. In an age of social activism, giving your time and resources to notable social causes exposes you to learning opportunities, leadership development, understanding things from different perspective, mentoring people, contributing to societal growth etc. Volunteering is very important especially when one is applying for a scholarship into a program either MBA, graduate studies or even changing jobs or careers. Be awarded for any further gives credence to your contribution.
- IMPROVE YOUR ICT SKILLS
We are entering the fourth wave of industrialisation (at least for developed countries) and almost every profession will be impacted by the wave. Jobs will be lost as well as created and redefined. Skilled manpower will be required as industries upgrade and further develop to serve clients better. Improving your ICT skills is no more an option but a necessity as this will be an added advantage for your career progression – within your present organisation or if you desire a change. ICT touches all area of life and if you don’t want to become a professional dinosaur, you need to begin to master the basics of technology. Think of digital marketing, advanced graphic design, coding, and other relevant tech know-how – these concepts will be more pronounced in the future. The good thing about this is that it has nothing to do with your initial discipline, as anyone can learn provided the will, determination and resources – which are ubiquitous and affordable – are available.
Even though you might not use the knowledge to change jobs or industries, it can be used as a “side hustle”. Combining your job and delivering service using you knowledge can earn you extra income, although small, can go a long way in solving minute issues.
- LEARN ANOTHER LANGUAGE
“Buy low, sell high. Be curious and be sceptical. And make sure your children and grandchildren are fluent in Mandarin” – Jim Rogers, the American investor and Fund Manager who relocated to Singapore from the US in 2007. In a highly globalised world, knowing more than your native language is very vital. With companies headquartered in one country and having offices and facilities across the globe – undergoing transactions – knowing more than a language (at least beginner’s level) open doors to greater opportunities. Some might think knowing a foreign language as an aid to advance one’s career applies only for multinationals. However, with Nigerian firms spreading to different parts of Africa and the world (Dangote & Sahara Groups are prime examples), it becomes necessary.
Additionally, being multi-lingual aids during one’s postgraduate sojourn especially if done in far-flung places. An instance is INSEAD – the top business school – stating as part of its requirements that candidates should know more than a language and know another (three altogether – at least) when done with studies. Yet another is for folks relocating. In recent times, skilled Nigerians are relocating to different parts of the world, by knowing a second language (other than English) or the language of a key trading partner(s), it will certainly give one an advantage during job search, invariably make settling down easier – ditto life. Also, knowledge of a foreign language might just be the tie-breaker between Mr A and B in an interview especially if the firm has offices and investments outside the country.
Finally, while doing these will aid your career, we also acknowledge the concept of luck/grace and it is not a black or white situation.