If you want to change roles or get ahead in your career, it's important that you know how to identify and pursue opportunities that are a good match for your interests, skills, and circumstances.
This takes time. You can think of the process of finding opportunities as a journey that will eventually lead you to an exciting but unknown destination. You need to be patient, and persist in your efforts.
That said, work that you put in now will pay off in the future. Not only will you end up in a role that's right for you, but you'll have a good understanding of your options. What's more, people will think of you when new openings come up, and you won't waste time pursuing the wrong opportunities.
You'll also have a better understanding of where you need to build new skills – and develop existing ones – to be successful in your career.
Let's look at a process for identifying career opportunities, and for choosing the best opportunities to pursue.
1. Have the Right Mindset
Opportunities are all around you, all of the time. (We'll look at where they are later!) So you need to be continually watching out for them.
Get into the habit of looking for possible opportunities every day. Keep a notebook with you, or use a smartphone app like Evernote to note down opportunities when you think of them.
Write down as many possible opportunities as you can – you can trim your list back to the most relevant opportunities later on.
2. Seek Opportunities
You also need to make an effort to seek out "hidden" opportunities. These are opportunities like job openings that aren't advertised, and projects that you can initiate because you have spotted an unfulfilled need within your organization or industry. Begin with your organization. Keep an eye on current internal or upcoming vacancies, and on any plans for the organization to expand.
Make sure that you stay up-to-date , so that you're aware of relevant trends and new technologies – these often create new opportunities. Social networking services like Twitter and LinkedIn are also useful for identifying trends and opportunities, and for networking with influential, well-informed people.
3. Identify Your Strengths and Weaknesses
As you seek out opportunities, you need to understand what your strengths and weaknesses are. This helps you identify the opportunities that are most relevant for you, and understand which skills you need to work on.
4. Identify Other Factors Important to You
It's also important to understand factors that are important to you in your life and career. This helps you identify opportunities that will be a good fit for you.
5. Narrow Your Choices
When you have a good understanding of your own strengths, weaknesses, and interests, and of the opportunities available to you, it's time to use this information to choose the best opportunities to pursue.
6. Prepare, and Take Action
Once you've identified an opportunity to aim for, you need to prepare, and then take action!
An effective way to do this is to incorporate the opportunity into your personal goals. You can then think through the steps that you need to follow to take advantage of the opportunity, and work towards these on a daily basis.
Keep in mind that finding great opportunities is an ongoing process, not a destination! Keep your eyes and mind open, and be patient and persistent. You never know what doors will open for you when you start looking!
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