Be shameless. Be like Cersei Lannister in Games of Thrones.
Both pieces of advice from a new lecturer. He was speaking on my course for researchers thinking about applying for fellowships.
Be like an evil queen who is determined to get her way! Shocking advice from such a genuinely lovely academic? My speaker said it was about asking and informing. Both of these we don’t do enough of. But they are essential to career development.
So what does shameless look like? In a nice professional way?
So here is a list of shameless things to consider for your career which don’t involve dragons, armies or zombie knights. They can be done professionally and in ways that are in concert with how you are.
Let’s start with the the inform. Take two statements. The people around us are not mind readers (despite telepathy being The Nerd Coach’s favourite SF device). Most of the people around us are helpful. If we couple these together they can only help us if they know what we need.
I am constantly surprised (pleasantly) when people take 5 minutes to answer a query or connect me with someone. But then I (and I’m sure you) would do the same. So a short list of things to inform:
- Tell your boss what your career plans are. They can then help you develop. An ideal time is an annual appraisal.
- Tell your professional network know what experiences you are interested in. When they come across them they can then tell you.
- Tell your family and friends your development aims. We often forget this side of our network but it may generate unexpected opportunities.
When it comes to the ‘ask’ this can be done in a polite, un-salesman like way. But it does need to be done! A simple email asking for one piece of help will often get a positive response. A follow up after a few days is appropriate. Hounding someone everyday with a barrage of questions is obviously not the way forward. Do say thank you for everything (I’m a big fan of a handwritten note!).
- Ask your network for help. What do you need? An introduction, some advice? Ask those in your network for a little of their time.
- Ask to get experience. Could you ask for secondment, a site visit or leave for an internship?
- Ask for development. Have you identified a technical course that could help you? Or do you want to study for a qualification? Have you asked for support from your employer?
- Ask for a referral, recommendation or testimonial. Social proof is important in our careers. LinkedIn is a good way of ‘displaying’ these.
- Ask for feedback. Do you know how others perceive you? Do you know your strengths? Are you ready to hear what you might need to work on? (this is the bravest ask)
What is stopping you?
If you don’t tell, no-one around you can help you with your career goals. Or worse they might assume your career aims and provide opportunities that leave you cold. Unsure about your career goals? Tell someone – they might be able to help!
If you didn’t ask you already had a ‘no’. If you did ask you might get a ‘no’ so you have lost nothing. But what if they say ‘yes’?
So what is going to be your question?? What could a ‘yes’ do for you?