Design your career path



Successful people are rarely accidental. In most cases, the successful person has spent time and effort to create the success he/ she craves even if they are not consciously aware of doing so. Have you taken stock of your career so far? Or are you like most professionals, just drifting along the work path, from one job to another, without conscious or unconscious thought to where you want to end-up?

The key is to start with the end in mind as Stephen Covey says. Where do you want to be in 10 or even 20 years’ time? Head of a function? Head of a company? Business owner? Identify the position you want and profile it: What experience and qualifications do people in that position have? What companies would they have typically worked in? What skills and abilities do they have?

Next, evaluate yourself against that profile and identify your development areas. Focus not just on the technical qualifications but also on the transferable skills. Transferable skills are those that you carry with you everywhere. Things like analytical skills, problem solving, decision making, communication and influencing skills are amongst the most commonly identified skills for leaders and successful professionals. How do you fare right now in terms of your abilities in these areas? Be honest, critical and err on the side of under-evaluating yourself rather than over-estimating your competence. After all, there is no such person as too good a decision maker! The better you are, the better your chances of success.

If your company invests in employee training, sign-up for programs that help address your development needs and while in there, focus on learning. By definition, to learn is to come to be able to; so don’t be content with knowing something but focus instead on how you can apply that knowledge to become better at doing. If you know your learning style, you can invest your personal time in developing your skills more effectively by choosing methods that suit your learning style. If you don’t, you can find several online, free, instruments and tools, to help you identify it. Take the time to complete one of these questionnaires in order to optimize your learning. Be sure to understand the underlying theory the questionnaire is based on since some are based on the way our brains digest information and give results such as ‘visual’ or ‘auditory.’ Others are based on how learning happens and would yield results such as ‘assimilator’ or ‘diverger.’ It’s best if you do one of each so you can really get the best from your learning experiences. So for example, if you are a visual assimilator, it’s best if you rely on audio-visual instruction like videos or trainings (whether classroom or e-based) given it provides plenty of ‘how-to’ and tools for immediate implementation of the skills.

After you have created ?and began implementing? your development plan, evaluate yourself. While appearances are not everything, they are an important to your career success. How do you present yourself? Do you project confidence or nonchalance? Are you passionate when you talk about your job and career or do you give the impression “It is just another job?” Do you address appropriately for your industry and career level? Is your grooming impeccable? Once again, be honest with yourself and seek the unbiased opinion of people you trust if you’re unsure. While industries vary, a good strategy is to dress in the style of your manager. For example, if your manager habitually wears a suit, start wearing suits to the office. Whatever the style accepted by the industry you work in (for example, banking is conservative while media is flamboyant); there is no excuse for bad grooming. Take pride in your appearance by being neat, clean, and stylish. Color-coordination and cleanliness don’t cost much and can have a huge impact on how others perceive you.

Finally, know the kinds of companies in which you can work successfully. We each have our own likes and dislikes. At the same time, companies have distinct cultures that may, or may not, suit our individual styles. Career success is about success, so ensure that every career decision adds a success to your arsenal by choosing your next company, and job, carefully. When considering a career transition, focus on what the new position adds to you in terms of skills and experience. Compare it against your profile to decide if it moves you closer to your goal. If the job itself is beneficial, consider the company next. Can you work successfully in that environment? Will you be able to demonstrate value? Can you develop an amicable working relationship with the manager? Don’t be shy about interviewing the manager when he / she is interviewing you! After all, this is not just another job.





About Layla Halabi

Layla Halabi, Partner at Learnactive, is a performance specialist with a broad background in Leadership and Management Development with more than 20 years’ experience in the GCC and the Middle East. Layla has extensive experience as an internal and an external consultant. She has worked with some of the leading organizations like General Electric and the United Nations system.

As a trainer, Layla specializes in developing senior-level executives. She holds a Master’s Degree in Training and Performance Management from the UK and a Graduate Diploma in Managerial leadership from the US. She is also a certified Global HR Professional and Senior HR Professional from the Human Resources Certification Institute in the USA; from the British Psychologist Society for Levels A & B (Intermediate) Occupational Testing and a certified Assessor and Assessment Center Manager.


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