Getting The Job

Tips for job selection

In my job, I speak to executives everyday about their career goals and objectives. Building a career has never been more complex. Even managers and executives, who have spent more years in a job than most, change positions about every six years. If you're among this group, you'll face several potential forks in your career path and will likely need a new roadmap each time.

It takes on average six to 12 months to find a senior-level executive position if you're thinking of making a switch. That's a lot of time to waste if you set off in the wrong direction.

This could be a waste of time if it's completely wrong for you This could be a waste of time if it's completely wrong for you

Knowing your strengths, as well as what matters most to you at this stage of your career, will bring focus and clarity to your job search. In a competitive and turbulent job market, flexibility and creativity are essential to success. A sophisticated understanding of your professional skills and personal attributes allows you to be more imaginative about how and when they can be applied.

A good first step is a career audit. For every job in your past, make a list of what you liked and disliked most about your role and the work environment. What “non-negotiable” criteria are you looking for now? Creating a list of companies you respect might help narrow the scope of the job search.

Being clear about your “must-have” career criteria such as responsibilities, company culture, work-life balance as well as staying up-to-date on the latest industry and hiring trends, will make it more likely that every job will contribute to a positive career progression.

Next, take the time to understand the motivations behind your earlier choices and what inspires you now. Korn/Ferry utilises an online assessment tool called CareerView that divides professional decisions into four themes: experts, competitors, learners and entrepreneurs. Ask yourself which of these sounds most like you:

1. Experts: Generally stick with one field and often one employer and focus on deepening their knowledge and skills. They are motivated to become sought-after specialists. If you fall into this group, explore mentoring future leaders or becoming a thought leader by writing or speaking on your area of expertise.

2. Competitors: Are driven to gain influence and responsibility. They may frequently switch companies, functions, or even careers purely for more pay or a more impressive title. While it is admirable to seek advancement, it takes time and a wide range of experiences to become a mature leader capable of handling complex roles. If you are motivated by upward mobility, be honest with prospective employers about your intentions and realistic about your abilities.

3. Learners: Are curious and attracted to trying new things. They select a field and then move every five to seven years into an area that uses their previously acquired skills and knowledge in a new way. If you fall into this category, look for organisations where you will easily be able to change departments, participate in company sponsored training, travel, or contribute to new projects every few years.

4. Entrepreneurs: Seek the new and novel. They typically move into new fields every two to four years. If you are a natural-born entrepreneur, but want to work for a corporation, you will do best in a start-up or company with a progressive and even unconventional culture.

Which one are you? Which one are you?

Alternatively, you may thrive in roles where your job is to build a department from scratch or launch a major new initiative.

As you go about your job search, solicit feedback from as many people as possible to get objective views of your strengths. Write out your “personal brand proposition” and a detailed description of your dream job. It is then essential to begin practicing a 30-second to three-minute verbal “pitch” that encapsulates your personal brand.

Even if you believe you have effectively promoted yourself throughout your career, never miss an opportunity to practice selling yourself, whether you are actively looking for a job or not. Doing so may lead you to discover new ways of positioning yourself and also helps you to clearly define and attract what you ultimately want and give you feedback on areas where your approach may not resonate.

A job search can be stressful, but the first step is always the same. Take control explore not only new companies or industries, but your own interests and attributes. Hone your own personal brand, outline your work-related desires and seek out the position that is right for you. A healthy dose of introspection lays a strong foundation for marketing yourself with confidence. Good luck!

Reza Ghazali, managing director of Korn/Ferry International in Malaysia, believes that cultivating strong leadership and talent is the key to unlocking an organisation's success. Article extracted from Talking HR, Star Business.