Winning the career
Nimish Thakkar, MS, MBA,
the secure walls of corporate fortresses career warriors are
relentlessly fighting -- at times with their own selves -- the battle
to succeed. Victory and defeat have different connotations in this
war, but the rules, the challenges, and the strategies are like any
other, and although winning the battle may sound elusive, it really is
a game of good timing, great strategy, and powerful allies (smart
Consider the following tips:
1. Reprogram your mindset
Sally held a lucrative job at a career development firm. Despite a
comfortable salary, plush office, and enviable flex time benefits, she
was dragging herself to work every morning. After a few coaching
sessions she realized she was in a profession that was in sync with
her interests and talents. What was missing then?
Many individuals approach their work with a
“need-the-job-to-pay-my-bills” attitude -- not a winner’s strategy.
Adhering to employer-laborer dynamics, reminiscent of the nineteenth
century, provides very little motivation to the workforce. Work
becomes a forced endeavor with such a mindset and there is no desire
to make a difference or to go the extra mile. The end results of this
approach are minimal professional growth and a lack of satisfaction.
What if the perspective were reprogrammed?
Let’s visualize a scenario where the employee is a self-employed
independent consultant selling professional services to the employer.
The relationship undergoes a dramatic transformation due to the
ensuing desire to please the client (employer), outperform the
competition (peers), constantly upgrade offerings (professional
development), and deliver the best service (performance) possible.
Such employees will always find creative solutions to satisfy and
benefit the customer (employer) and, thus, themselves.
Sally adopted this attitude and soon found herself energized and
motivated. Empowered by her [self-imposed] promotion, she
metamorphosed into an “idea machine” that constantly generated newer
ways of improving efficiency and profitability. She worked with her
superiors to launch several new programs and was soon promoted to a
bigger and better role.
2. Establish goals and develop a game
Jim was a business analyst at a leading pharmaceutical company. He was
drawing a comfortable salary and was very content with his work until
he realized that despite all the hard work he had not grown much in
over three years. He knew something wasn’t right and immediately
embarked on an honest self assessment.
The first outcome of the exercise was the realization that Jim was not
working toward a clear goal. Further work revealed his interests in a
brand management position. Once the goals were defined, the next step
involved the development of a game plan, a roadmap that entailed
working extra hours (voluntarily) with the brand team and a detailed
strategy for developing brand management competencies. He participated
in numerous marketing projects and undertook training programs and
MBA-level courses. Jim is now interviewing for positions with brand
3. Build powerful allies
It may be lonely at the top but those who reached there did not walk
alone. Networking is a crucial component of any career success
campaign. From growth prospects to new job offers, opportunities
always knock at the doors of the well-connected.
Start building alliances within the organization. Supervisors, peers,
team members, vendors, customers -- all of these are potential
networking contacts. Even better, each of these contacts may know many
others, and if one were to tap into this pool of “friends of friends,”
the list of allies could snowball to sizeable proportions within a
very short period of time.
In addition to internal networking, opportunities for networking
outside the organization are virtually infinite. From subway riders to
presidents of industry associations, almost everyone is a potential
ally. Serious career warriors recognize this secret and will not lose
the opportunity to win friends. They will be omnipresent at
4. Fire up the PR ammunition
Gone are the days when PR strategies were the exclusive domain of
commercial enterprises. We live in times where individuals, too, can
leverage PR tactics to their advantage.
With a plethora of publishing and speaking opportunities, it is very
easy to boost visibility and establish one’s image as an expert. Blogs,
articles, trade journals, teaching opportunities, seminars, webinars,
conferences -- all of these are excellent avenues to showcase
professional expertise and to generate some buzz.
5. Position effectively
During my MBA program, our marketing professor initiated us into a
very powerful mantra: “To be successful, be different”. Almost every
successful brand would swear by his words.
Speaking of brands, ever wonder why popular brands are more successful
than their competitors? It is no secret that these brands have worked
very hard to position themselves as being unique and a cut above the
Great lessons for career stalwarts desirous of developing their own
In order to stand out from the crowd of “me too” professionals career
warriors, need to carefully evaluate and understand their signature
strengths and leverage them to develop an effective positioning
strategy. A manager, for example, may choose to position herself as a
“growth-focused team leader who specializes in turning around failing
divisions”. An administrative assistant may, on the other hand,
position himself as an “extremely efficient administrative ace who can
ensure seamless operation of highly-complex, multi-million dollar
Success in the career war -- it is like a war, after all -- is a
carefully planned enterprise where rewards come to those who
patiently, but smartly, persevere in the “right direction”. It is,
after all, a game of good timing, great strategy, and powerful allies
Nimish Thakkar is a certified career coach, outplacement consultant,
and resume writer with ResumeCorner.com and SaiStrategies.com. Thakkar
holds two graduate degrees, including an MBA. He has worked with
thousands of clients and has authored over 100 articles.