An important foundation: experience
Marc Effron, founder and president of the consulting company Talent Strategy Group, defines experience
as one of the most important foundations of successful professional development, based on conclusive research results. The most successful development is achieved through a combination of professional, social, and formal learning at a ratio of 70-20-10:
- 70% success through professional experience
- 20% success through social interaction
- 10% success through traditional continuing education
All the experiences gathered during training, university or the first few years on the job are the foundation of a successful career. They contribute significantly to ongoing personal development and therefore to professional self-realization in the future.
The strategy: define the starting point and the goal
Chance, luck or randomly selected continuing education programs are not the way to reach goals, especially when it comes to careers. People who rely on these things can easily stray off their path or lose sight of their goal.
A successful career is a professional path oriented toward concrete, self-set goals. To pursue this path, you need to recognize your potential from all of the experiences you have gathered and, based on this, identify your personal starting conditions. Only then will it be possible to precisely define your professional goals.
To begin with, you will need to decide which specific professional goals to follow:
- Do you want to stay in the same field or switch to another profession?
- Are you interested in another department or are you seeking employment in a higher position?
Gain some awareness of your personal career goal. Effron compares the approach with the route planner in Google Maps. Two pieces of information are required in order to get to the desired goal as quickly as possible: the starting point and the destination. Base on your experience, you will know your current location at the very least. By gaining awareness of your desires and visions, you can determine your goal.
The strategy: draw up a career plan
Unlike Google Maps, the route does not figure itself out. A concrete plan is indispensible in order to continue.
Be your own manager! Develop an overview of all your professional goals and keep a tally of how you want to design your path. In doing so, it helps to visualize regularly where you want to be in the next two to five years. Adapt your plans to any possible changes on an ongoing basis and keep it up to date.
Although the career plan represents above all a theoretical vision and cannot be thought of as a fixed target due to the changing employment market and the economic cycles, it will help increase your chances of effectively reaching your goal.
Strategy: build your personal network
In order to find out which capabilities and adjustments will bring you in the right direction, it helps to take advantage of the experiences of other people. Find experts and talk to them! Ask successful professionals from your own company and use the expertise within the entire sector to advance yourself, personally and professionally. The easiest way to do this is through informal conversations and meetings. Keep maintaining and expanding your network.
It is especially effective to ask experts about their experiences. The questions can be about your own application process (for example, “What should be included in an application for a managerial position?” or “What should I be prepared for going into the interview?”), or about the personal career experiences of the experts (for example, “Which decisions were critical to your first success?” or “How do you successfully manage your team?”).
Take detailed notes of all the information and experience reports. This will allow you to consult your personal and ever-expanding pool of knowledge at any time.
Success is not a matter of chance
To determine your starting point, you need to evaluate yourself realistically. The methods and approaches described above allow you to map out and visualize a clear, structured path from where you are now. You should also try to set priorities at the right time and invest in areas that don’t appear goal-oriented at first.
For example, consider accepting a lower salary for the short term or a temporary job that you don’t particularly enjoy. If it is a necessary stepping stone that will get you closer to your goal in the long term, you should invest in it for the short term. You may also get some contacts out of it and end up hearing about an interesting job or find out about new positions in the company.
You don’t always have to travel this path alone. Use your network and trust your experience and your knowledge, because success is not a matter of chance.