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Forging a career: how to spot companies that offer more than a job

  • March 27, 2018

Job satisfaction is something that’s frequently held up as the pinnacle of working life. Yet more often than not developing a career is what offers the real satisfaction, not just having a job. Performing tasks because they have to be done feels a lot different to performing tasks that are leading you towards the next step on your career path. In fact, the Good Work Index developed by the CIPD  draws together insight on the factors that help us assess whether the job we have is poor, and how they can be improved. The report, amongst other factors, focuses on the importance of development opportunities to lead to an overall sense of fulfilment. We’ve therefore put together some hints on what to look out for in a company that offers a career… not just ‘a job’.

Junior level: getting off to a flying start

Whether you’re a graphic designer, a chemical engineer or a buyer, the training that you receive in the formative years of your career is so important. Whether you take the route through university with a specific career goal in mind or study an academic subject with only a vague idea of where it might take you, or whether you take an apprenticeship, you need to feel confident that a company has the right processes in place to support you on your journey into professional life.

Look out for businesses that have established training programmes for apprentices and graduates and, crucially, have a proven record of success. When you’ve invested time and money in education that will develop your career, you want to feel that a company will have the ability to support you as you move from novice to experienced professional; if the foundation is shaky then everything built on top will be unstable too.

Life in the middle lane: taking it up a gear

With a few years’ practical experience you’re in a good position to make decisions about your career that can bring exciting new ventures and opportunities. At this point, adding strings to your bow is a good idea. This could be about increasing your value as a whole. For example, you could take a management course so you can lead others. This increases your responsibility and makes you more valuable. It gives you skills that aren’t just about your work, such as people management and other soft skills. These are key in any management situation and are needed by companies across all sectors.

Alternately, at this point, you might want to make a change or head in a specialist direction. If so, then look out for businesses that align with your interests and can offer training that deepens your knowledge, as this will allow you to carve out a particular route for your career. On the flip side, maybe variety appeals more to you. Secondments are a great way for those with a few more years’ experience to get a taste for different areas of the business. It keeps things fresh for you, without committing to one particular avenue definitely, and it broadens your overall skills and experience which is valuable to your employer.

Don’t stop growing: senior career progression

For many, reaching the status of director is the pinnacle of their career. If this is something that interests you then it’s a good idea to look out for companies that are growing or expanding into new territories. You may stand a better chance of reaching a senior level if there is room at the top. Keep an eye out for companies that have clear strategies in place for developing the next crop of leaders, have clear succession plans and have established processes for dealing with this.

Progressing to the level of ‘Head of…’ or director is much more than evidence of ability, it offers some significant benefits. Being a business leader brings with it the chance to make an impact on the profession and to take the company in a certain direction that you envisage. It also enables you the chance to influence and offer help to those below you and shape the direction of their career, as yours was by your seniors.

Whatever stage of your professional life you’re at it’s important to keep thinking about the future and how the present builds towards that. Keep in mind that as you move up the career ladder what you want out of your career may change and the business that fitted your objectives may no longer do so. Of course, building a career entails having a job, but remember to keep thinking about how it fits with your overall career plans – if it doesn’t then maybe it’s time to move on.

If you found this blog interesting, have a look at our other blogs on interview tips and how to get a promotion, or if you’re looking for that perfect role, send us your CV. Alternatively, you can check out all the vacancies we have available.

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