16 June 2023

2 key questions to foster a successful career

With so many options out there, it can be hard to determine if a corporate career is truly right for us. If it is, it's important to start preparing now to ensure you're ready to make informed decisions about your future. We don't want to be caught unprepared.

Fortunately, our Chief Administrative Officer, Elena Krutova, is here to offer expert guidance on how to safeguard your career. Drawing on years of recruiting experience, Elena shares valuable insights and a practical framework to help you achieve success and secure a lasting and fulfilling vocation.

Just imagine you have 20 to 30 years of your career. It's worth trying to find what you want and like doing and where your talent lies, isn't it?"

Elena Krutova Chief Administrative Officer

Being in the corporate world for almost 20 years, I have always asked myself how to sustain my career regardless of any troubles I may (and will) have along the way. As a professional recruiter, I have seen numerous rises and falls of executives, candidates for top managerial roles, and my colleagues. They claimed or even earned tremendous compensation, but either became prisoners of one company or were suddenly laid off and never reached the same peaks anymore. 

No one wants to be a promising child and, in 10 years, have a mediocre career in a no-name company. Neither do I."

The higher we climb, the greater the risk that one day we will lose our power, our money, or our self-esteem. Actually, the last point is one of the biggest issues that stops many people from looking at their careers more holistically. Being well-paid is one thing, but what about a prosperous future to take on new challenges or try a new career in a new industry or business field? Or what about being fully fulfilled with your job? 

👉 If you think it is almost impossible to find meaning, fulfillment, and happiness at work, please feel free to read my article where I seem to have found the formula for being happier at work.

Am I as good as they pay me to be? What are my options if one day I do not like what I am doing? And am I sure that what I do is really good and that someone else will "buy" it one day? All these doubts have bothered me for many years. But finally, I found the answers. They started with just 2 simple questions that I was crystallizing.

Question 1. What is your talent?

Our talents define who we are; it defines our future. Being honest about our talents will save us from disappointments and may save our career. I know I cannot sing, so I am not a singer. But what I can do, and what I have spent decades learning, is to understand how people work, how they make decisions, what motivates them, and what companies can and should do to get the best out of their employees. Someone may say that this is not enough. Well, it is enough for me. For today. And for tomorrow, we will see. Probably, I will start learning programming.

Question 1. What is your talent?

Discovering true talent is not easy. Many people mistakenly equate talent with a particular skill or trait. We should remember that there is some truth to the famous motivational wall art listing "10 things that require zero talent". Take energy, for example. Energetic people are great for organizations; but when they do stupid things, it adds more harm than good. So if you think that your talent lies within one of those areas, I have bad news for you—you may need to think about others.

10 things that require zero talent:

1. Being on time

2. Work ethic

3. Effort

4. Body language

5. Energy

6. Attitude

7. Passion

8. Being coachable

9. Doing extra

10. Being prepared"

Look deeply within yourself. For example, you may have great leadership talent. It goes beyond just having strong leadership skills. It means that you are the one who attracts talent and your excellent reputation goes before you. You understand people and can take them beyond their current level so that they do not feel bad all the time. This makes you the leader that everyone in the company wants to work with to do great things together.

At the same time, remember that no one can guarantee that the work we do today will be in demand in 10 to 20 years. Just think about how technology replacing humans in many jobs changed the future of factory workers or airport staff. Or how today's copywriters are affected by the rising interest in ChatGPT, where we can have our text checked, corrected, or even improved in a matter of minutes. So remember, the competition is fierce:

  • Competition with AI. If your job is to send reminders to others so they do not forget to fill out reports or book travel, I have bad news for you. It is not sustainable in the long run. 10 years ago, all companies had secretaries and personal assistants to write detailed meeting minutes. Today, there are numerous applications and plug-ins that make it fast, efficient, and, most importantly, cheap.

  • Competition with other professionals. While competing with AI or automation is a race, it is not the biggest one yet: we have other humans, too. Tell me if you know enough and even more in the professional area where you are. Tell me what professional books you have read recently. Do you have the ability to improve your own work in a way that no one else can? Or are you just fast enough to reply to your manager, so all the juicy tasks are most likely going to you?

Question 2. What do you want to do?

Knowing where we are good at is great but is not enough if we do not like doing it. "Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life," Confucius once said. I don't know if Confucius is aware that he is quoted so much, but it is true. Despite these motivational posters everywhere on the internet, it sounds simple but very wise.

Doing what we want to do is essential for our mental health. When we like what we are doing, our brain works differently. It generates more ideas, spending less energy, and thus we feel less tired and frustrated. 

We actually can do more, or we can spend our free time with better quality, as nothing will disturb us. We feel empowered, and the wings behind our back are spread."

Again, it is not so simple. What if we like some parts of your job and some of them we just cannot stand? 

Not bad, at least we know what may piss us off, and we may start trying to avoid it. Or we can hire a person who will see no drama in doing the piece we do not like. Or we can optimize our work in a way that these pieces will just disappear. Don't like typing reports? Ask your assistant to do so, and you just dictate the words. Are you an executive and hate reading reports? Invite your subordinate to arrange a short meeting where they can explain the most important things for the week in 5–10 minutes and have a cup of nice tea with you.

Finding what we want to do is not always about quitting and starting our yoga practice. Nice pieces of activities can be found in any job routine. Here are some examples from my experience:

  • When some unpleasant tasks are unavoidable, I try to be honest about it. I "eat that frog," knowing that when it is over, only the pleasant parts of my work are left. If I know that I am going to do something really annoying today, I will at least take a break after that task to minimize the risk of yelling at someone afterwards. Or do something nice for myself, like buy a new pair of shoes.

  • When I understood that I like being around people, talking to them, helping them to find the answers or even pushing them to go the extra mile, my job became less stressful. 

  • When I realized that I did not like long meetings with no goal, I started to make up goals for myself or be more clear with the team about what we wanted to achieve during the meetings. 

  • When I felt that I liked writing, more people started to enjoy (I hope) the pieces I created.

Complexity arises when it is hard for you to understand what you like or dislike. When you have bad days, everything looks bad: your boss, your colleagues, your tasks, even your salary is not good enough. So this is probably the wrong day to think about what you like, try tomorrow? Or if you cannot find an answer for weeks, you are probably right, this is not the right job for you.

Just imagine you have 20 to 30 years of your career. It's worth trying to find what you want and like doing and where your talent lies, isn't it?"

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