What are you good at? It sounds like a simple question, but there’s more to it than you might imagine. Think beyond the easy answers — “plumbing,” “creating spreadsheets,” “processing invoices” — and consider what you really bring to a job. Top-ranking CEOs are able to do this, and that’s part of the reason they earn the big bucks.
“Your career plan needs to be about more than just getting into the next job, and the next one after that,” writes Jo Miller, founder of Women’s Leadership Coaching, Inc. “Sustainable, long-term advancement comes more easily when you start out on the right trajectory.”
With this in mind, Miller has written a terrific Daily Muse piece called “Know Your Niche: 4 Secrets for Finding Your Career Sweet Spot.” Scroll down to see what she recommends.
1. Figure Out Your Goals, Values, and Visions — Once you have these three things, you’ll know where you want to go, and that’ll save you from making bad career decisions. “If we have a clear idea of what our personal values are, then we don’t take on things that cause us to sacrifice our self esteem or integrity,” writes Romea Smith, a senior vice president of customer support at CA Technologies.
2. Discover Your Passions — You want a career that invigorates and inspires you. Who wants to come home feeling drained every day? The trick is figuring out how (or if) your passions translate into the overall vision of your company. Here’s the question Miller says you should ask yourself: “Is there a good fit already, or do you need to maneuver into a new role, company, or path that you truly feel passionate about?”
3. Establish a Leadership Style — Knowing where your values and passions lie isn’t enough. You’ve got to carve out a career path that’s unique. “Don’t look at how others succeed and try to emulate their approach if it doesn’t play to your skills,” advises IBM enterprise services leader Debra Aerne. Not sure about your unique leadership skills. Miller advises asking a friends, mentors, and coworkers for their opinions.
4. Know Your Limits — Let’s face it: There are some thing you’re simply not good at. Before you consider taking a job or making a career move, ask yourself whether you can truly be successful in the endeavor. “If the job involves something you truly can’t—or don’t want to—develop, move on,” Miller writes. “It’s not the right one for you.”