Career assets are what you have right now.
Before planning for the future or dreaming of new career ideas, you need to work out what you have going for you right now.
In career terms this means; what you know, who you know and what you can do. Most importantly, it means providing tangible evidence of just that.
Career assets come in many forms. They include things like:
Your reservoir of life experience
Your character and attitude
Your effort and commitment
In this article, we concentrate on three: your Know- how, Knowledge and Network.
KNOW HOW – what do you know how to do?
Know-how comes from experience. It’s the tangible evidence of what we have learnt from our past, and current experiences.
Often people list impressive sounding yet vague statements such as ‘I have five years’ experience working at a marketing firm’, instead of specifying clearly what they are able to do as a result of that experience.
Take a sheet of paper and for each role that you had in your career to date, list the following:
What new knowledge did you acquire?
What new skill did you learn?
For example, mid-career I was the manager of a small research consultancy. In this role I gained knowledge of start-ups, budgeting, fund raising and how the tourism industry works.
In this role I acquired the skills of negotiating, planning, and team building.
As I repeat this short exercise for the nine roles that I have held in my career to date, my asset base grows.
Formidable life experience.
Equally important in identifying career assets, are those formidable life experiences that we have had. Often it is something outside of our professional lives that can provide valuable deposits to our career assets portfolio.
These may include, but not restricted to;
· Volunteering work – fighting a cause – giving back
· Starting something new or building a network
· Overcoming adversity or a challenge
· Being part of an organisation – e.g., women in business, Toast Masters International
· A sporting achievement
· A travel experience
· An educational experience
Once again, from each of these experiences we can drill down and mine out the knowledge that we have built and the skills that we have mastered.
What problems do you solve?
One of the best ways to work out your intangible soft assets is to attend a network event and listen to the problems of others. You will be surprised at what problems you could solve. Listen out for those points when you think ‘I could solve that’.
Ask yourself - how can I put this experience to good use? What am I the ‘go to’ person for?
KNOWLEDGE – what do you know?
You know more than you think you do!
Knowledge can come from experience. It can also come from training programmes, conferences, books, TV programmes, podcasts etc.
In many ways, knowledge is the tangible output of experience. Early this year I attended a one-day workshop on Instagram for Business. I now know how Instagram works. I know how to post on Instagram. I won’t be changing my day job any time soon to move full time into the world of Social Media Marketing, but these are still small builds in my asset base.
Knowledge as evidenced through formal and informal qualifications.
Make a list of all your qualifications. Remember to include any short courses, online courses or conferences that you attended where you feel you gained additional knowledge or skills. Too often we focus on our highest level of formal education without considering some of the more relevant skills we have gained through more recent, yet uncertified programmes.
Take a piece of paper. Divide into three columns and rate your knowledge level as follows:
Low – I know a little bit about this subject.
Medium – I wouldn’t pursue a career in this right now, but I feel relatively knowledgeable in this subject.
High - I consider this to be a subject in which I am competent, or on the way to a level of competency.
Have tangible evidence to back this up. Either the certificate with the qualification on it, or a story of how you successfully demonstrated this level of knowledge.
NETWORKS – who do you know?
Way back in the day, it was ‘who you know, not what you know’ that got you a job. Ask this of anyone who was job hunting in the 80’s. Roll on many decades later and the concept still holds. Now referred to as ‘social capital’ – our network provides a fabulous foundation for new career opportunities and new career ideas.
So, who do you know?
Your potential network is made up of many layers
Network of colleagues - relationships with colleagues in your current company and previous companies.
Network of industry peers – relationships in the industry outside your existing company, including industry associations and competitors.
Market network – customers, suppliers, bankers, regulators and other external entities who you work, or have worked with as part of your job.
Social network – family, friends and community outside of your professional network.
Nourish the Network
This quote always make me chuckle.
“We often have the presumption that building relationships in the professional context (i.e, networking) is like flossing our teeth– we know it’s important, but it’s not fun’.
I am not going to spend a lot of time or words on the importance of networking for our career. There is already a lot out there on this topic. Rather, I will share three things that helped me nourish my network.
1. Move away from being the centre of your own world, to being on the periphery of someone else’s when you network. Instead of thinking ‘what’s in this for me’, we need to listen, understand their world and see what we can offer or how we can help – even if that is simply listening to their story.
2. Helping someone out means acknowledging that you can be helpful. Reject the misconception that you are less powerful, less wealthy and less experienced. Everyone has something to offer. Find out what your thing is.
3. You can’t nourish a network if there are too many in it. By all means, build your numbers on LinkedIn, but look to a smaller network of likeminded souls who you can genuinely help.
BUILDING YOUR ASSETS
Your asset mix is not fixed. Keep working on it. Invest in training, volunteer for projects. Read books. Build your network.
I’d like to end on a piece taken from the author and coach Mark McGuiness
He defines asset creation as investing time in creating something that will generate ongoing value in the future. He talks about four types of work activity that consume our time.
Ongoing — work you have to do every, every week or every month.
Events — work related to one-off events, or events that happen at longer intervals, e.g., an annual conference, a big project, a client event.
Backlogs — things you wish you’d done already and need to catch up on.
Asset creation — investing time in creating something that will generate ongoing value in the future.
If you spend all your time on ongoing work, you will spend the rest of your career in an endless grind. This might be OK in the early stages of your career, but by the time you are mid-career, it won’t be so appealing. Events are exciting and may well be some of the high points of your career. They can also help you create assets. But as with ongoing work, there is a danger that you can spend your life working from event to event, with little to show at the end of it. Clearing a backlog feels fantastic, and it’s well worth doing. But it will only get you to zero. It doesn’t move you forward in any significant way.
Asset creation is what truly moves you forward – creatively, personally, professionally, and financially.
Go get building!
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This blog is one of a series of six, looking at 6 Signposts to New Career Ideas. Each blog covers one of these signposts - highlighting the importance of each, helping you to identify them for yourself and creating ways to use them to develop your career.
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