Knowledge centre

What are the ingredients for a successful career?

Have you ever stopped to consider what it is you specifically like and don’t like about your job?  Reality is – we all have elements we don’t like.  But how do you ensure your job has much more of the stuff you do enjoy?

Consider creating a list of the top three to five non-negotiable job ‘satisfaction’ ingredients – those elements of your work life that you know you must have in order to be happy.

Take Jane, a senior HR Advisor, as an example.  She commenced her career working for a major Australian manufacturing company, where she was in a large team, travelled extensively and had a very creative role.  It was also an organisation that over the years, purchased or merged with other businesses, or divested of and closed sites, often making many people redundant.  Jane loved this job, but after a number of years of having to close sites and make people redundant, it lost its appeal and she sought another role.

For her new role, she drafted her ingredients as follows:

  • Small, growing organisation (as opposed to large, but shrinking organisation)
  • Only Human Resource (HR) person in the business (as opposed to working in a large team of HR professionals)
  • No or very limited travel (as opposed to spending most of her time travelling)
  • Management team highly supportive of HR
  • Autonomous and creative role.

By being clear about what she was looking for, Jane was able to target specific organisations and role types and quickly found a position that met this criteria.  Even better, it gave her the magic answer to that interview question: “what appeals to you most about this opportunity?”

The important thing to note when you create your criteria, is that it will change over time and between jobs – simply because of your personal priorities and growth.  When Jane then sought her next role, her criteria was very different to the job above:

  1. Business support for the function she works in;
  2. Dedicated and creative team;
  3. Leadership role;
  4. Freedom and support to lead and do what she believes is right for the department and team;
  5. Mining industry.

Note that Jane’s ingredients do not identify a specific role.  She could actually be working in any function – within reason.  Note also that there are some ingredients that only she can create (number 2) – it’s not always about what an employer can provide.

By identifying and articulating what your non-negotiable vs negotiable criteria is, you immediately gain clarity around what you seek and what you can change.  You become clear on what you must have versus what you can live with.  This will significantly help your job search and future career development discussion with your current employer.

So, what are your ingredients?  How realistic are they at this time in your career?  Are these ingredients being met in your current role?  If not, what can YOU do to change this?  Think about your ingredients when you next discuss your development plan with your manager and together identify some of the ways they could be better met.