How often have you gone for your dream role, where you knew you could not only lead but succeed, only to be told that someone else blew the interview panel out of the water and so you missed out?
Yet we all save up our most critical career management skills for special occasions, treating them just like our Sunday best outfit.
Instead, as part of your career strategy, these skills need refining, honing and testing regularly, just like every thing else we do.
Winning and landing roles gets far easier with practice. This may mean throwing your hat in the ring for a role every now and then, even if you aren’t sure you really want it.
Given that the literature tells us that women self select out of high competition opportunities far too soon, this is important. We're not giving ourselves enough practice runs. We're saving it all up until we find the perfect opportunity. Then we shoot ourselves in the foot because of the process or performance, not because we wouldn't be great in the role.
To help convince you that it's not a waste of time, here are six great reasons why you should dust off these skills at least once a year and get some practice runs on the board.
1. It keeps your career toolkit up to date: There is nothing so terrifying as a late night CV update for your dream role. While a good deadline does galvanise action, why not be prepared in advance? Make success your only viable option by applying for a one or two key roles every year. This way you are forced to update your toolkit regularly.
2. It helps you practice the process: You are building and refining your job application skills and process - from socialising the idea, to reaching out via our networks to learn more or to gain some visibility into the process, to crafting a cunning cover letter that cuts through the clutter, to upgrading then tailoring your CV, actually applying, then possibly interviewing, follow up and more ..... Phew! It's overwhelming! Better to do this more frequently so it's not such a mammoth task all in a rush for the job of a lifetime where the stakes are so high that you run the risk of underperforming.
3. It builds your interview muscle (if you should get so lucky): If you win an interview, you get to develop your Interviewing muscle - not only to get back in the saddle and remember how to talk about yourself and your achievements, but to remember how to manage stress, gauge the responses to your answers, to flex, respond and reframe in the interview as required. And if you don't win an interview, that's evidence you need to go back and refine step 1 and 2. It's great data. Do the work.
4. It’s a signal: By throwing your hat in the ring, especially for an internal promotion, this signals to the leadership team that you are keen for more. Perfect for when your boss resigns, and you may not want the role, but you want to demonstrate you are hungry for advancement.
5. Reinvention: If you do have an opportunity internally, yet you are not sure you really want it, consider this - by applying and going through the process, you have a great opportunity to reinvent yourself and challenge others perceptions about what else might be possible for you. In a nutshell, you get to tackle any misconceptions about you head on with the interview panel. Decision makers get to see you in a different light and if done well, this is a great door opener.
6. Test your value: If you don't value yourself, no-one else will either. Your career strategy quite possibly has some alignment with salary, commensurate with the value of your expertise and experience. By testing your value in the market regularly you find out more. You are fact finding.
You don't want to be doing this every month or every week. Once a year is a great rule of thumb. I heard a story of an HR Director who had this annual process. He had been with the company 10+ years. They had not only been happy years, but he had delivered some great initiatives as well. When the time was right he was perfectly poised to move on - his career toolkit sharpened and honed, ready to springboard him into the perfect opportunity. So he did. In one easy application and interview process.
That's not disloyal. That simply smart.
Even if you are in a great role, stay curious, dust of these skills at least once a year and give yourself the chance to learn and improve. The higher up the food chain you go, the opportunities are fewer and further in-between so the competition will be stronger. Unless (as one client said to me after 20+ years in the one organisation) you want to be “taken out in a coffin”, you'd better get some practice runs in when the stakes are lower.
It's not a waste of time either
What’s the worst thing that can happen? You might land the role and have to graciously decline. The opportunity wasn’t quite right for you at this time, but you’d love to talk to them about further opportunities more in alignment with your ultimate goals down the track.
And graceful rejection is also a great skill to refine.
It’s not a waste of time. It helps both sides of the equation work out what they really want and who they really need, now and in the future. And maybe next time, you will be the one to blow them out of the water.
Your thoughts? Drop me a note with your thoughts on this. Do you save these skills up like your Sunday best? Or do you take them out for a test run every year? Let me know.
#winningwomen #womenofimpact #feminineambitionrocks
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