Are you looking to progress at work? Are you wanting to be considered for a big promotion or find a new business or career opportunity? If so, you want to make sure that you put your best foot forward and give yourself the best chance.
I'm going to share with you the 3 big mistakes that I see in my work and that I witnessed first-hand in myself and others during my finance career.
It can be very frustrating to find that despite your hard work, your commitment and tenacity, you find yourself passed over for a new opportunity or perhaps a promotion.
By the time I meet people for coaching, they are often feeling desperate and at their wits end. They have been passed up for some sort of promotion at work despite putting in the hard yards. They have turned to an online search and trolling the jobs boards sending out their resumes all over the place but still getting no real feedback or traction. The harder they work or the more resumes they fire out, the more the frustration builds. After months of not getting any results, they are left feeling disillusioned and burnt out. And worst of all, in some cases, I see their mental health beginning to suffer.
So, to avoid reaching this sort of level of frustration and resentment I suggest checking that you are not making any of these 3 big mistakes:
1) Mind reading;
2) Network (lack thereof!); and
3) Taking yourself out of the race too early.
1. Mind reading:
Mind reading, or telepathy as I like to say, is (no surprise here!) expecting other people to be able to read your mind.
For some reason so many people fall into this trap: you think that the harder you work and the more you demonstrate your commitment, that you'll just be magically put up for promotion or that someone somewhere is going to discover you and ‘head-hunt’ you, or bring an amazing new opportunity to you. This is not reality. People are not mind readers.
You must be intentional. You must choose to be intentional. Nobody else out there knows what you want for, and from your professional life.
When I worked in finance, I naively assumed that everybody wanted to go through the promotion process and progress as fast as they could through the ranks within the organization. It was only when I was going through a promotion panel process and was talking to one of my colleagues, when he made it clear that he had never had any desire or intention of trying to progress further. He was more than happy in his position and in his role. It played to his strengths, he felt he was growing and learning, and he felt fulfilled.
What that conversation did was that it made me realize that we never really know what other people are thinking or what other people's hopes, dreams, ambitions, and intentions are.
And the same is in reverse: nobody knows what you want, nobody knows what you are thinking. So don't assume that others know that you want to progress in your career. You need to find ways of putting that energy out there. You need to express your intentions, hopes and dreams with those around you who can support and help you. Make your intentions clear and speak to people who've gone before you.
Be open with your boss about your development. Learn about the sorts of opportunities that may be open to you and what the business and what your boss needs to see from you if you were to be considered.
2. Networking – a lack thereof!
The second error I see time and time again is the fact people do not have an active network. They do not actively connect with others until they need help with something. Connections and networks are like friendships and romantic relationships. They need nurturing.
For many people, the word networking, makes them feel uneasy.
They think there some sort of sleaze factor associated with talking to other people about new opportunities that they may want to create within their professional lives. Or the introverts out there (me included) start to feel anxious at the notion of asking someone for their time.
My recommendation is to get the word networking out of your mind and think more about connections. The reality is no matter what you do, what stage of your career of business growth you are in, it is important to have connections. Within your organization, within your clients, within your industry and within similar or associated industries.
Create a clear strategy to connect with others regularly. Make a system around doing this so that it is easy and becomes increasingly habitual. Remember that connections are a two-way street. It is not just about the big ask that you may have. It is equally and perhaps more important to consider how you can be of service and help and support others.
If you are feeling anxious about reaching out to someone, put your attention and intention onto how you can serve, help, and support them.
When you do set up conversations hoping to learn more about a new role or discover potential new opportunities, approach those as learning conversations. Try to learn as much about the other person and what they do. Approach the conversation as one where you would look for some sort of mentorship or advice.
For example, when I made my big move from medicine to corporate finance, one of the questions I asked people was simply this:
“If you were me, with my mix of background and skills, what sort of work or what sort of roles do you think I would be best suited to?”
This simple question helped me generate referrals, to speak to other people, meet connections of my connections, until I was eventually offered an amazing and fantastic opportunity. I would never have found out about or known about that opportunity if I hadn't got out there and spoken to people, made my intentions clear and asked for advice.
3. Taking yourself out of the race too early:
This is the third big mistake that I see professionals making when they want to level up in their work or in their careers.
When you read an advertised job description or learn more about a promotion at work, you may panic and feel that you don't have what it takes. What you may not know is that job descriptions are notoriously highly inaccurate.
Even highly experienced professionals will read a long list of ‘requirements’ for a role and feel they don’t meet the criteria. The eliminate themselves automatically. This is huge mistake.
Firstly, often the people writing the job descriptions aren't that clear what the role entails. Often, they have cobbled together everything they think the current person in role is doing, plus thrown in a few extras according to what that person’s line manager feels is needed in the role. Often there is a legacy of ‘requirements’ in the original job description which are no longer accurate. So, although the criteria are not to be discounted, until you have taken more time to explore the opportunity more fully, do not take yourself out of the race too early.
The other compounding factor is that people undervalue themselves. They do not see what amazing skills and gifts they have to offer. They take their skills, gifts, and experience for granted and discount themselves from the role prematurely. You may feel you need to spend more time working harder to get more experience, studying, or educating yourself further before being considered for a promotion or new opportunity. This is often not the case.
In essence, all three of these big mistakes, whether it's mind reading, whether it's discounting yourself from a role prematurely or whether it's your lack of active connections, it all down to one thing:
You cannot sit back and wait for the world to come to you.
The secret of success is: Do not be the best kept secret. You need to get out there. You need to seek and not hide.
So, get out from behind your screen, talk to people, tell people of your intentions, connect with others. And when in doubt connect with others with the spirit of service. Learn from others, ask for their advice, and don't take yourself out of the race prematurely.
If you want to perform at your best, if you want to make the most of your unique skills and gifts, if you want to find more purpose in what you do so that you can truly excel in your chosen field and get paid, what you really deserve: then remember, there are many ways that you can work with me, from courses to group and one-to-one coaching. Click on any of the free strategy call buttons and let’s see how I can help you. If you get great value from that free coaching call, then we can see what sort of course or program would be a great fit for you.