Article thumbnail

Four ways successful people manage their careers

Defining what career success means can be a minefield. It is often measured against external standards. But often it’s a deep personal feeling of accomplishment.

Your most valuable asset is not your bank balance, real estate, car, current job or any other material things.

Your most valuable asset is your ability to make a living, or in other words, being able to get results that people will pay you for.

To extend that further, if you enjoy doing that thing that makes you a living, that’s a real bonus, and some people actually do enjoy what they do for a living.

Here are four strategic steps to go about finding your next career pivot. And you can successfully manage your career if you adopt them.

1. Meaningful specialization

Finding a career that provides meaning and motivation starts with identifying what your special area is. Nobody can be all things to all people. Successful career changers can demonstrate one or two core skills. They have developed these core skills to such a level that they can perform them in an outstanding manner and get excellent results.

  • What core skills do you have?
  • What are you especially good at?
  • Is this a marketable skill with growing demand?
  • If not, do you need to acquire up-to-date skills to be relevant in this specialty in the future?

2. Positive differentiation

There are a lot of people out there with similar core skills. Your area of positive differentiation is the work you do that is better than your competitors. You must be able to stand out and identify what makes you unique.

  • What do you do better and different than 90 percent of the people in your area?
  • What would it take to become excellent in this attribute?
  • Do you have a mindset that is able to propel you to new heights and deal with setbacks?
  • What impacts have you made in previous roles that would transfer to a new business to make that business more successful?

3. Market segmentation

You must understand that the marketplace will value some skills more highly then others. Where one employer has valued your skills, another may not value them as highly. So you need to research what customers, organisations, and sectors can best utilize your special talents and offer you the most rewards and opportunities.

  • Have you assessed the market and researched what skills are most in demand?
  • What industries are growing, static, or in decline?
  • Have you targeted those organisations or customers willing to pay you for your special talents and abilities?
  • Do you understand how the market has changed or is currently changing? Has it been or is likely to be disrupted?

4. Proactive implementation

Once you have decided on your area of meaningful specialisation, your means of positive differentiation, and your market segment, the final step is about concentrating your efforts with the right tactics.

It’s about having a laser focus. These include proactively going to your market segment and having the mindset of a buyer, not a beggar. You know what you’re worth. The marketplace can pay handsome rewards for the right person. That person could be you.

Don’t be distracted by stories of people who have sent hundreds of applications and heard nothing back. They’re not following the steps we’re outlining here!

Being in the right place at the right time is a challenging exercise, but successful career changers know that positioning themselves through engaging with their network is the right strategy.

  • Have you prepared your marketing documents (i.e. resume and cover letter) and aligned them to the needs of the marketplace?
  • Are you using social media to proactively brand yourself and let your market know what you can offer?
  • Have you managed your reputation up to now so that you can offer your services with trust and integrity, and established your strong purpose (i.e. your why) and values?
  • Do you have an outstanding track record of achievements that directly relate to your next role, employer or customer?


This is a guest post by Warren Frehse, registered career development practitioner, transition coach, leadership specialist and author. You can follow Warren here.

Other posts you may be interested in:

Get weekly updates with expert tips to help you land your dream ethical job