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  • Writer's pictureDr. Susan Doering

Turning Points

Do you know when you have reached a turning point in your career/life? Yes, you say, of course, I do. In fact, many of us either ignore moments when we could choose another direction (for all sorts of reasons), or even when we recognise a turning point ahead of us, fail to prepare for it.

My book, Smart Career Moves for Smart Women. How to Succeed in Career Transitions, which is out at the end of this month, takes a closer look at exactly those turning points and at the triggers for a career move. What are the reasons for a career move and how can we grasp the opportunity of the crossroads ahead?

The book goes into detail about the kinds of turning points we will arrive at in our career. Here are some.

· Moving to the next level

High potential women with career aspirations should reflect how far you can go in your present company and understand what internal support you will be given. You must realistically assess your chances of career progression and research and compare opportunities in other organisations. Naturally, too much job-hopping will not look good on a CV, but judicious moves will help you get where you want to go. Lesson learned Prepare well for your next move.

· Moving into leadership

It is an irony of the world of work that people who are good at their job are often promoted to a leadership role without necessarily being naturally good at leading people or receiving only the most rudimentary managerial or leadership training. If you are looking for such a role, or know that it will be part of your career progression, look out constantly for opportunities to learn and practice the skills required of a good leader. Watch your manager for traits you want to emulate and traits you don’t! Lesson learned Grab every opportunity to practice being what you want to be so that you are ready to grasp the moment when you arrive at the crossroads.

· Stuck in a job with no prospects

One coachee of mine spent far too long in a job where she was very unhappy. Good at the minutiae of the work, she spent long hours (overtime!) creating complex financial databases but was unappreciated and, although she did slowly progress up the promotion ladder by virtue of her length of service, she was unable to move into the area of work she felt capable of doing. Lesson learned be honest with yourself about your career prospects where you are and find the courage to move on if they don’t match your aspirations.

· Moving to a different area of work

If you have a deep desire to do something different, stop thinking about it but do your homework on what you need to make the move. You have the power to decide when you have reached the turning point, but you must be prepared to take the new road. Researching the area of work and using your current network and extending it into that area will be key. Lesson learned Gather as much information as possible, plan well, but then jump.

· Going it alone

You are itching to leave the corporate world and set up your own business. The turning point is now. You must plan and prepare meticulously, including financially. But first you should reflect intensely on how suited you are to being self-employed and how you will be in the role of entrepreneur. Talk to others who have begun start-ups. Find out what their biggest hurdles were and reflect on how you would overcome them. Lesson learned Be honest with yourself.

· Starting out – or any crossroads where you have to present yourself

I regularly coach students from my alma mater college who are beginning to think of what to do after graduation, and I recently coached a very bright young woman studying foreign languages who had already done some work for NGOs, including teaching English to refugees, creating databases, sorting out bureaucratic knots, and providing advice and support. She would obviously be a great asset to any NGO. But it took me a while to learn what her skills and experience actually were, i.e. what she had to offer, because all of it was pretty well hidden in her CV, disguised under terms such as “admin work”. Lesson learned recognise and showcase your relevant skills and experience that match your interests.

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