#1 — ALWAYS BE CONNECTING
The first strategy is what I call the ‘ABC’ of developing your career: to ‘always be connecting’. It’s a practice I recommend you do on an ongoing basis — even if you’re happy in your current career and aren’t looking for a job. This concept goes beyond traditional networking, developing client relationships or finding mentors.
It’s about strategically connecting with people in your network doing work you’re interested in. Then, having a conversation with them about their careers. These conversations will reveal new career possibilities you’d never otherwise have considered.
It’s also a fantastic way to test out potential pathways to minimise risk before making a career shift. Plus, your contacts can connect you to future job opportunities. When you have ongoing conversations with your connections, you will grow your career organically.
#2 — CULTIVATE CURIOSITY
There’s a moment when I’m coaching a client and I can’t help but lean in. Those light bulb moments when my clients reflect back their biggest lessons from our coaching work. One I hear regularly is: ‘Something you once shared with me which I’ve never forgotten is — stay curious!’
Curiosity is the one essential skill which has the power to completely transform your career. First, it helps you explore new pathways, talk to people and test out different to figure out what you want next in your career.
Second, curiosity supports effective communication — especially when navigating difficult conversations in business. Third, it assists you to grow your network and develop your career at every stage. Because when you cultivate curiosity, you strategically create the career you want.
#3 — MAKE YOUR CAREER ‘WORK’ FOR YOU
Have you spent, weeks, months — even YEARS — thinking about what you want next in your career? You’ve brainstormed a long list of job titles or career paths, weighed up the pros and cons of each option — yet you’re still stuck!
This process sounds logical — but you’re approaching it the wrong way round. By trying to identify your ideal job upfront so you can yourself match yourself to it. Instead, understand what YOU want first, then consider roles or career paths which are a fit for you.
When you stop trying to fit yourself to your work, you will make your career ‘work’ for you!
#4 — ALWAYS DO WHAT YOU SAY YOU’LL DO
Early in my previous recruitment career, a candidate complained I hadn’t followed up with them. As someone who values excellence and prides myself on providing a high quality service, this feedback horrified me. Especially because it’s the exact reason recruiters get a bad name!
The truth was, I couldn’t immediately help this individual — but I’d failed to communicate it. To his credit, my manager gave me a simple piece of advice which has supported me since: always do what you say you’ll do. I took this early career lesson to heart and after this, received the highest customer service scores across the WA office.
It’s also remained front and centre as I’ve built two businesses. I always think of one of The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz: ‘Be impeccable with your word.’ When you do what you say you’ll do, you build trusted relationships in business.
#5 — DON’T BURN BRIDGES
‘I’m going to drag your name through mud — and you’ll never get a job again!!’ This was the reaction of my boss when I went to resign. It was one of my first jobs, at the tender age of 19.
I’d consulted my Dad — a small business owner, who led a team of 40+ employees — on the correct steps to take to hand in my notice. After updating him on what happened, I stated my intention to never return again. Then, my Dad shared some wisdom which has stuck with me:
“Her response wasn’t professional — but be the bigger person, Stace. Work out your notice period with your head held high and don’t burn bridges. Lots of staff slack off at this stage — let this be a lesson to always leave on good terms.”
I took this advice on board then — and in each role to follow. I’ve also shared it with many individuals I’ve coached since. Because when you leave on good terms, you support your future career success.
#6 — STAY IN YOUR LANE
If you’re anything like me, you feel good about yourself until you compare yourself to others. One moment you’re feeling on top of the world. The next, you scroll social media and see someone putting the idea YOU had out into the world — or doing something you aspire to do.
Then you feel small, unworthy and not enough in comparison. Instead, use these feelings as inspiration and fuel for what you desire. When you focus on YOUR unique gifts, comparison becomes irrelevant.
#7 — START WITH SELF-AWARENESS
What makes a great leader? Well, it’s not about having a particular personality or leadership style. It’s about authenticity — staying true to yourself, whatever your style is.
As an authentic leader, you’re not full of ego, creating a false impression or trying to be someone you’re not. You’re genuine, ‘real’ and lead with your unique personality and values. It’s about having confidence in yourself, the ability to inspire and motivate others and make an impact.
Authentic leadership is a conscious choice, which you have to work at daily. It requires you to cultivate a high level of self-awareness. Having emotional intelligence and an awareness of how you behave, communicate — and the impact it has on others.
When you start with self-awareness, you will stay authentic as a leader — and give others permission to do the same.
#8 — BELIEVE ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE
As a child, I could never settle on the one thing I wanted to do when I grew up. But I always knew I wanted to start my own business one day. My dad inspired me — he’d achieved amazing success as a business owner.
From a young age, he instilled this belief in me: Anything is possible — with persistence, self-belief and consistent action. It’s this one belief that’s helped me go after and achieve everything I’ve put my mind to.
From trying out many careers in pursuit of my multi-passions and working overseas in my early 20’s. To leaving a well-paid corporate job days before my 30th birthday to follow my lifelong dream of starting a business. Then, pivoting my career and closing a successful business to start a new one.
This is such a fundamental belief that’s shaped who I am as a person and what I’ve been able to do and achieve. Because when you believe what you want is possible and take action towards it, you will create the career you want.
#9 — COMMUNICATE YOUR NEEDS
Effective communication is the solution to 99.9% of problems in business. Research reveals employees are experiencing record levels of dissatisfaction at work. According to Gallup, this is due to unclear expectations — and a lack of development opportunities. identified the main causes as: unclear expectations, a lack of career development opportunities — and individuals feeling disconnected from the company mission and values.
The great news is, there is ONE solution to address these issues: effective communication.
With workplace and business needs changing so quickly, it’s tough for employers to keep on top of every individual’s needs. This is why it’s critical for YOU to initiate conversations about your career and drive your own development too. When you talk to your manager about your goals and development, you will create a career which is fulfilling and sustainable.
#10 — NEVER GIVE UP ON YOUR DREAMS
I’m going to close with the one career strategy which remains close to my heart. Back in 2018, I’d closed an established business, was completing my coaching certification and about to launch my coaching company. Then days before I was due to fly to Singapore for the final part of my training, my Dad received an unexpected cancer diagnosis.
I wanted to postpone, but my Dad refused to let me put my plans on hold. Here’s what he said to me, words which were repeated many times in his final year of life… ‘No matter what happens, promise me — you’ll never stop going after your dreams’.
I’ve honoured this promise ever since. My wish for you is that you go after and honour your big dreams and aspirations too.
So there you have it. The top ten strategies which have supported my clients and I to develop the careers we desire. I hope they help you too!