Career Opportunity Identification: The Key to Putting Your Career in Turbo

Career Opportunity Identification: The Key to Putting Your Career in Turbo

Having and honing Opportunity Identification skills are essential to managing a successful career. While career Opportunity Identification comes naturally to some, most of us have to work pretty hard to develop these skills.

Being aware of your OI quotient is a must and scheduling time to develop it is often neglected.

Your Ideal Career: A Combination of Need & Fit

Over the years and recently more frequently, I get asked for career advancement advice. The requests come from recent college grads, individuals looking for their first supervisory position, and, most frequently, from mid-level managers who feel and usually are stuck “in grade” and are highly frustrated.

My answers to all of these individuals starts with a simple explanation of “need and fit”.

From my perspective, “needs” are the skills, experiences, and talents that a hiring managers seeks and, more importantly, needs.  When I ask those who seek my council to articulate why a prospective hiring manager “needs” what they have to offer, few can give me a clear and articulate answer that differentiates them from the axiomatic clichés such as “highly creative”, “like people”, “ hard working”, etc.

Equally frustrating for me is few of these ambitious individuals can articulate real-life experiences that support their stated strengths and skills. Answers are generally uninspiring or (even worse) focused on what they would do rather than what they have done.

The other dimension is “fit”. I describe fit as the cultural environment that aligns with a candidate, resulting in a high propensity for both the prospective candidate’s selection and success.  

The question every candidate should be asking themselves is: Is this company, organization, team or hiring manager a “fit” for me?

Over and over again, I see this dimension either missed or consciously ignored. In addition, one must be aware of his or her own style, approach, etc. to be able to understand this critical dynamic.

The career dumpster is full of unhappy professionals who accepted a position for the money, the title, or both rather than fit.

Need & Fit Will Help You Identify Your Best Career Opportunities

Years ago when I was an SVP at a large software company, I led a growing organization where I was building out the leadership team.

Over a two-year period I posted a number of VP positions ranging from sales, operations, marketing, support, etc.  

In addition to some great candidates, there was a mid-level manager named Charlie (name has been changed) who applied for every single one of these positions. On his initial screening interview, he came in prepared and had clearly researched what it would take to be successful. But what puzzled the interview team was the fact they he didn’t want a specific VP position, just any VP job.

The fourth time Charlie applied for a VP position, I decided to call him in for a private chat. I liked Charlie a lot in his current position and found him to be a really nice person from many dimensions. I wanted to understand why he was applying for positions outside his prior experiences, and I was concerned he was damaging his career by putting himself in a negative box of “the guy who wants to be a VP, any VP”.

Charlie shared with me that he always dreamt of getting to the VP level. He had promised himself that he would be a VP before age forty and had a passionate desire for his family, especially his two children, to reach this goal. I explained to him that while his goal was noble, his approach was both wrong and career damaging.

I scheduled additional time with Charlie, where we went through a process that identified the ideal “need and fit” that would set him on the right course for obtaining a VP level of authority position and to be highly successful in it.

We went through who Charlie truly was, where he had been highly successful, and why he wanted this role. We additionally drilled down on past work environments where Charlie was generally thrilled to go to work each morning and equally excited when he left for the day. We crafted a strategy, plan of action, and storyboard, then sent Charlie on his way.

With Charlie’s newfound focus and self awareness he was able to identify opportunities that truly needed him, in a culture that was a perfect fit for him.

Today, Charlie has completed his seventh year as a VP and now has his sights set on an SVP position.

Building a Career Without Regrets

Need and fit self-awareness is a key component of Career Opportunity Identification. Without knowing and deeply understanding these two dynamics, it’s impossible to play the career chess moves necessary for advancement.

What’s your introspection on need and fit as it relates to Career Opportunity Identification? If you do not understand this dynamic, your career could be sub-optimized and regrets could be in your future.

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