Career Development: 5 Fast Tips ...to be prepared for new opportunities

Preparation can help you jump into new opportunities
By Karen Adamedes

Sometimes opportunities come to us that we were not expecting.

For instance, there may be a new project in your organisation that you're asked to join, an unexpected vacancy that you're asked to apply for, or a recruiter or another company ring you out of the blue to sound you out about a role.

Even when you are totally happy in your current job these kind of opportunities can throw you into a tail spin. Should I do it? Shouldn't I? I like what I'm doing but this seems a good opportunity. Arrgghhh! Help!- these are all pretty common reactions.

To help you decide if you should take advantage of an opportunity when it comes up - you need to be prepared.

Ready for action.

Here are 5 Fast Tips of how to prepare so that you can act when opportunities present themselves:

1. Have a career plan - written down - it helps if you have already thought through what you are trying to achieve and where you want to go. When an opportunity arises you will be able to reference back to your career plan and see if it is line with your plan.

It may not be the exact move you were planning on next - but you'll know if it's heading down the right (or even same path). As Seth Godin says in his new book, Poke the Box, when discussing the evolution of Starbucks, "One led to the other by the usual route, which is never a straight line".

Careers don't follow straight paths anymore but when you have a career plan to refer back to - you'll know if you are even in the same strata sphere!

2.  Know what you like - the environment you want to work in, the type of people you want to work with and for, and the sort of work you want to do. If you have this clarity you will be able to ask the right questions to assess if the new opportunity measures up to your requirements.

3. Have a mentor - when you have a big decision to make if you have been working with a mentor you will be able to call on them for an emergency discussion. Most importantly, you will have someone who you trust, who understands you and who has no vested interest in your decision that you can have an open and honest discussion with.

4. Use your network - to find out more about the opportunity, the company, the people - your network is an excellent source of information to help you make your decision.

5. Say yes - if the opportunity is right for you. Don't miss out because it doesn't align with the scheduled number of steps in your career plan or because you don't think you are ready.

Whether your career moves are planned or reactive being prepared so that you can recognise opportunities when they come along is a skill to develop and manage your career.

Have you had an opportunity come along that you weren't expecting? Please share how you made your decision.

Thanks for the chat!

- Karen

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