When looking to progress your career, think about what you want to achieve, what is important to you, and how your next move will help you reach your goals
The FTD interview –
In the latest in a series of occasional interviews with professional advisors, FTD talks to Wayne Fry, who specialises in the recruitment of supply chain, procurement and operations personnel in New Zealand, and asks what candidates can do to kick-start their career.
FTD: What is the first piece of advice you would give to someone who is looking to progress their career?
WF: The grass isn’t necessarily greener. Many professionals think they have to change jobs every three years to get ahead. But you don’t necessarily have to move to a new job or company to advance your career. Chances are, your current job could well offer challenges and opportunities you may not necessarily be aware of.
By taking on new assignments in your current position, you can expand your skill set and develop your leadership capabilities – and thus your marketability – without spending all that time and effort job-hunting.
Have you spoken to your boss about taking on further responsibility? Are there projects you could lead or be involved in? Do possibilities exist for a secondment to another department? Do you have any ideas you could suggest to make improvements in the business, and volunteer to lead this change?
Moving jobs can be stressful and the best option for you may be to stay exactly where you are. If you are confident your current employer cannot offer you any new challenges or progression, then it may well be time to move on.
It is important to ask yourself what you are looking to gain by moving jobs. Moving jobs purely to get a higher salary may be attractive, but does not guarantee that you will be moving into an opportunity that provides learning, development and progression.
Ask yourself what you want. For some, career progression involves a promotion – perhaps into a leadership position. For others, it may be to take on a new challenge, to work with new systems or to take on a completely new role. Think about what you want to achieve, what is important to you, and how your next career move will help you reach your goals.
FTD: How do I make myself an attractive candidate for promotion or career progression opportunities?
WF: Assuming you have decided to stay with your current employer, strive to be the best you can be. Do more than what is expected from you. Those who do that little bit extra, are authentic and work with passion, integrity and a positive attitude are often recognised and earmarked for promotion or extra responsibility.
Talk to people, grow your networks internally, and improve your reputation through making achievements and building relationships within your team and across the wider business.
If you want to get ahead, one of the best ways to do this is to find out from others how they got there. Most successful people are successful for a reason and are only too happy to share their insights and advice to help others. Identify someone you respect or who is in a position you aspire to, and ask them for their advice and guidance. If you develop a good relationship, then perhaps they would be interested in acting as your mentor and helping you plan and develop your professional growth.
FTD: What if the best option is for someone to leave their current employer to progress? What would you suggest then?
WF: The first step is to be noticed – and to achieve this you need an up-to-date CV. Make sure you list your achievements, as well as an overview of your roles, education, qualifications and your key attributes.
Use LinkedIn and social media. Make sure your profile is up to date and make it personal. Recruiters and employers are active on social media, particularly LinkedIn, and having an attractive online profile could well mean that you are approached for opportunities. Look out for groups to join and engage in the supply chain and logistics community to raise your profile.
If you apply for an opportunity, or are approached directly, do your research on the company. You don’t want to move jobs and find out you are no better off in your new role than you were before. Look into whether the company promotes people internally, if they have a learning and development programme, whether they are able to talk about examples of how people have progressed, what their overall culture is like – does this fit with what you want and who you are?
FTD: Is social media the number one tool you would recommend for networking?
WF: I believe it is almost a must-have in today’s world to help raise your profile and grow your professional network. Having said that, I know of recruiters and candidates who have very successful careers and do not have any presence on social media.
LinkedIn, for example, is often a great way to make initial contact. It is important to remember that it is not a replacement for real-life contact. Meeting and talking with people is the best way to network and develop relationships. There are a number of groups and industry associations you can join. NZPICS has a community of supply chain and logistics professionals you can join and there are a range of groups and meet-ups you can get involved with.
FTD: How important are qualifications?
WF: Qualifications are important, though rarely essential in order to progress your career in supply chain and logistics in New Zealand. For many management and leadership roles, a preference is put on candidates with tertiary qualifications, usually in either supply chain/operations or business. Professional qualifications such as CIPS and APICS or NZPICS are becoming increasingly recognised and are growing in importance.
Whilst not essential, studying toward a tertiary or professional qualification will help you learn, develop and grow your professional network, and will give you an edge in progressing your career.
If you don’t have the time to study or currently hold any qualifications, then don’t let this hold you back. Experienced candidates with the capability to learn, manage relationships and take on responsibility can have highly successful careers. Having the right attitude and experience can often be seen as more important than anything else.
FTD: What is your top tip for someone looking to progress their career?
WF: Persistence pays. Remember that no one cares as much about your career as you. It is up to you to manage your manager and sell yourself so that you are given new opportunities. If your boss doesn’t want to, or isn’t able to, provide you with any opportunities to learn and develop, then look elsewhere.
If you really want a promotion or a new job, then fight for it. Be realistic, be single-minded, and once you know your goals, set yourself targets on a regular basis. You may need to zigzag your way there, but keep focused on what you want. Always focus on your own path and don’t be distracted by what others are doing.
Wayne Fry is a senior consultant at Hunter Campbell, a specialist recruitment business for supply chain, procurement, finance and accounting; for further information, visit www.huntercampbell.co.nz