With our Focus on Careers Week this week, the Amazing Sarah Henderson, Career Services Advisor from the University of Queensland, has provided us with her top 3 pieces of career advice including practical tips. Sarah is a rising star on LinkedIn and is known for supporting emerging talent to build meaningful and joyful careers in a rapidly changing world.
Top tip 1: Cultivate Curiosity
It wouldn’t be good career advice without first stating the world of work has been changing for many years. Long gone are the days of a job for life. In fact, those entering the workforce today are likely to navigate approximately 17 changes in employer across 5 different careers. Within each of those work contexts work will be continuously changing, making continuous learning a huge part of our new normal (Foundation of Young Australians, 2017). The demand for forward-thinking and future-focused people is already high. Many employers now consider curiosity as a key skill, with job postings mentioning the need for curiosity increasing by 90% (Brower, 2021).
Why is Curiosity so important for your career and job search?
Curiosity primes your mind for learning, leading to greater learning outcomes, higher engagement, and increased performance at work (Campbell, 2015). Additionally, curiosity has also been shown to enable people to find a greater sense of life satisfaction and meaning and are therefore more likely to experience sustainable lasting happiness (2016, Svoboda). Even Einstein attributed much of his success to this trait, stating, “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” Therefore, cultivating a genuinely curious mindset is my top recommendation for making the most of your career (and life more generally). The good news is curiosity is a capability which can be improved through focused effort.
Top Tip 2: Do hard things regularly
As humans, we are programmed to move towards things that make us feel good and away from things that make us feel uncomfortable. Therefore, we can easily get into a pattern of shying away from the things that will challenge us, even if we know consciously these things will be good for us (Rock, 2021) and our careers – also known as our “comfort zone”. Don’t get me wrong, the comfort zone has a very important purpose, it is where you can perform well and is a space which enables you to rest, recharge and reflect. However, it is important not to stay in it too long, otherwise, it can prevent you from developing and ultimately lead to disengagement at work (ThemPra Social Pedagogy, 2022).
To continuously develop we must regularly do hard things and venture beyond the comfort zone into the “learning zone”. Explore careers that may make you specialise in one area or that will introduce you to new areas of your chosen field. For example, in Marketing, you may only want to focus on Social Media or you might want to take on a generalist role that will allow you to grow and develop in many areas. In this space, your existing capabilities are challenged by the role or project, which is why it is hard but this is where the learning happens. This can be nerve-wracking and uncomfortable but should not cause you to experience fear or panic which can be known as the “panic zone”. If you are entering the “panic zone” dial it back a notch because learning and curiosity cannot occur in this psychological space. Therefore, we should challenge ourselves with tasks which get close to but not into, our “Panic Zone” (ThemPra Social Pedagogy, 2022). Ultimately, job seekers and those in new jobs should know that overcoming challenges can often make us feel much better than simply staying in our comfort zone, as you get a greater sense of achievement and pride.
Top Tip 3: Embrace Failure
When we do hard things and stretch ourselves, even if we stay out of the panic zone sometimes it doesn’t go to plan. In reality, none of us will avoid experiencing failure at some time in our job and over our careers. If you don’t, it’s likely you are not doing enough hard things! People will often agree with the fact that failure is unavoidable, but many will still spend an awful lot of time trying to prevent it or, if it occurs, pretend that it never happened which can get in the way of learning.
Failure is a key part of the learning process and how we deal with it is an important part of career success. To fail means you have reached a goal, and now have an opportunity to try again with new information whether it be about the task itself or the capabilities you will need to develop to be successful. Additionally, failure means that you committed and tried hard at something that is important to you, which is something that takes courage (Brower, 2022). My advice is to remember that if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly, to begin with. A top tip would be to constantly seek feedback, even if it might be something you don’t always want to hear. Ask yourself, what could I do better next time.
To Wrap Up
If you need any career information or helpful resources it’s always good to check in with your training providers, and school and sometimes at your local community centre there will be visiting careers advisors. You can also follow Sarah on LinkedIn for some great news and insights.
To wrap up it’s important to know that your skills are a currency in the world of work. Save time and keep your LinkedIn Profile up to date to ensure your resume is ready when you want to make the next move. You, your student or your child might be in the right job now but your future is just around the corner.
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