Typically, we say millennials get bored too quickly, they dislike routine work, administrative or repetitive jobs because most millennials are explorers. They like to explore various things before finding the true purpose in what they do. Moreover, most of them have the luxury of doing so as they may not have any big commitments before they enter the working world. This gives them the flexibility to be an explorer.
However, they still need a career strategy as there is a high probability of getting lost in today’s global corporate jungle.
A survey of 2,000 of millennials in the UK found that one in five has two or more jobs, one in three millennials plan on changing industry within the next two years, 13% intend to change industries within the next year and 45% will be looking to move within three years. With so much career shifts happening so quickly, how do you make sure your career moves are the right ones – the ones that will get you to where you want to go in the future?
Based on my personal interaction with many millennials, the majority of them would like to venture on start-ups. It’s a great idea, of course! However, one of the key questions one needs to ask is, “Am I ready?” Only a handful of start-ups succeeds among thousands and those are the ones who have done careful planning, made themselves ready, have a right support structure and resources.
No matter what you do, you need a clear strategy. Here are three simple action steps to build and execute your career strategy.
It takes a while to understand yourself. In fact, very few people understand their full potential early on. This may be one of the fundamental reasons why millennials explore or job-hop in search of their true selves.
Exploration could be one way to find your passion. However, this path will slow you down. The most efficient way is not to drift from your career and use it to understand yourself. Firstly, do a personality test – disc and Myers-Briggs are good ones. It’s important to know your personality.
Secondly, be conscious. What’s the first thing that comes to you naturally, where you don’t have to push yourself? Try and capture this on paper. Which part of the job do you like the most and which part of the job does not enthuse you? Take your time, don’t complete this task in just one day. Take about a month or two. Your purpose is to find the pattern or theme. This way, you will be able to discover what your strengths are. What are you good at and what do you enjoy? What motivates you? What are your values? By sitting down and really working this through, you save yourself a lot of time and pain in the future.
Research your career options. This will give you the chance to look at sectors which are growing and are likely to offer long-term employment. Focus to match your strength to any role which will give you long-term prospects and meaningful work. Once you nail down a couple of roles which you believe will make the best use of your strength, delve into the further details. What are the skills required for those roles – both technical and soft skills? Again, the key is to have patience and not to rush the research. Remember the famous quote from Albert Einstein: “If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.”
This is the most important and challenging part. Career strategy is thinking about a choice and choosing to stick with it. There is a famous quote from Ram Charan (renowned management consultant): “Execution is a specific set of behaviors and techniques that one needs to master in order to have a competitive advantage. It’s a discipline of its own.”
We understood ourselves, we did all the necessary research. Now, it’s time to plan and execute. Searching and finding your ‘dream’ job may take a long time. What until then? Normally, we seek answers to this question in terms of which job or role can best suit out strength and passion. Instead, we should reframe the question and ask what aspect of our current job can best suit our strength and passion.
Identify the areas where you can best use your strengths and passion. Be vocal about your interest to your management – that way, managers can able to help wherever possible. Focus on personal branding, and building skill sets. There is a famous saying that luck is equal to the combination of opportunity and preparedness.
When we see someone getting their dream job, we immediately think they are so lucky. It is actually because this person was prepared at the right time when the opportunity presented itself. Hence, if you are not prepared, the probability of this happening is zero.
In this formula, you have no control on ‘opportunity’. However, you have full control on ‘preparedness’. Have a goal with respect to improving personal branding, building skill sets and expanding network. All this needs to be specific, measurable, relevant and time bound. Regularly check on progress, ask for help to accelerate learning. Focus, discipline and execution are key here.
Don’t simply drift or keep changing jobs. It may be painful to stay longer (especially if it is not what you love to do) but you will accelerate your career in the near future. Use the time and experience to understand yourself and discover your purpose.
Research extensively, identify the roles and skill sets needed to match your strengths and passion. Lay out a clear plan to build your personal branding, gain key technical and soft skills, and expand your network. Have a written goal and create a purpose statement for yourself, which will greatly help you to stay on track.