Jenny Oliver, General Manager of Group Insurance at TAL, recently shared some key tips with us on career development.
From career advice like seeking new learning opportunities and maintaining continuous development, to putting a hand up for anything and everything...here are Jenny’s top 10 career-boosting habits.
Career Advice #1 Always put your hand up
Whether it’s Friday night drinks or sitting on the committee to pick new office chairs, I put my hand up for anything and anywhere I could add value. I became me known as the go-to girl who could make lives easier.
Sometimes I was confident, but sometimes I wasn’t. But when it comes to development opportunities, putting your hand up and giving it a go is a surefire way to get noticed at work.
As a result of my positivity, I accepted a reinsurance manager role…I didn’t even know what reinsurance was and spent the first week researching it! This led to bigger and better opportunities 12 months down the line. So my best career advice is to be a ‘Yes Woman’.
Career Advice #2 Be curious
When it comes to advancing your career, knowledge is power. And curiosity even more so. I always, always seek to understand more. Continuing education is key for career progress.
Having a broad knowledge base is what gives you the confidence to make important decisions at crucial points in your professional and personal life. And having a willingness to learn is the special something that lifts you to higher levels of thinking and opens up career possibilities.
Career Advice #3 Create your own opportunities
If there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout my career path, it’s that stagnation is the enemy of career development. If there’s something you want to do, make sure you go for it!
And don’t wait for opportunities to come to you. Create your own opportunities. Look for development opportunities. They can be anywhere and everywhere. Explain to your organisation what value you can bring and convince them to give you a shot. It may be the most important career choice you ever make.
Career Advice #4 Support your team
Career development doesn’t just end with you. There’s no ‘I’ in Team. So organise your team early and look after them. As a leader of a larger team, I realised that it was important to invest heavily in your staffs’ professional development.
Development opportunities can come in all forms; “Sideways and down can sometimes lead you up.” This kind of lateral move worked great for me. Sometimes you don’t just need a vision of success, but a career vision that will lead you to your goals.
Career Advice #5 Give it a go
Come on. Just try it. It will be great. You will love it. Why not?
Sometimes I put my hand up for sooo many things that unexpected career opportunities arise from the woodwork. At one point in my career, I loved numbers, finance and graphs, but I found myself heading up the marketing team as a result of putting my hand up. Opportunities won’t come to you so make sure you keep a close eye on any popping up!
Career Advice #6 Have a sponsor
Have a sponsor and surround yourself with people who know what you want. It’s important that people in your organisation know exactly what it is that you love and makes you tick. This is the most surefire way to head down (or up) your desired career path.
Career Advice #7 Find your passion and values
When you’re enthusiastic and passionate about your job, you’re driven to get things done. When you’re not as interested and don’t feel aligned, it’s tough to succeed.
In this case, cut your losses, move on and find your passion! Loving your job is crucial for career progression. Professional development is nearly impossible to cultivate if you hate what you do. So find your flow and you’ll find your career takes off on its own.
Career Advice #8 Be proud
This is a little similar to finding a career that falls in alignment with your passions and values. When you're in love with you do, when your good at what you do, and when you value what you do...you can be proud of your career.
So make sure you're in the best job you can be in for you, and the inner rewards will follow. Not to mention working life will become a whole lot more rewarding.
Career Advice #9 Add to your skills
This is a little like the curiosity section. But a little more “go get ‘em”. Add something new to your CV every 6 months.
New skills can come from anywhere. You can find a mentor, take an online course, attend a seminar, speak at a seminar, shadow a colleague, perhaps ask for tasks outside your normal role.
Always look for new ways to build skills, learn and be better. Because professional development requires skills development. So actively look for ways to expand your skills, knowledge and seeking out opportunities.
Career Advice #10 Network
Network, network, network. Even when you don’t want a new job! Remember: job security comes and goes, but a solid network of valuable contacts is valuable no matter the circumstances. Networking is key for career development and staying relevant!
I don’t have a solid vision for where I want to be in 20 years, but as long as it involves being passionate, enjoying what I’m doing and being surrounded by great people, then my vision of success will be accomplished.
So, create a support base! It may be finding a mentor, building relationships with fellow team members, joining groups, attending conferences with like-minded individuals, connecting with people in similar industries. You never know what career opportunities might spring up!