There’s never any shortage of advice on how to get that next big career break. But the people you really want to hear from? Those that are standing exactly where you want to be. We asked former Walk of Life clients “What’s the one piece of advice you would give to someone looking to land a top job in the impact sector?”. Here is what they said:
Find someone to look up to. Then work out how they got there.
“Understand who is now where you want to be, see what steps they’ve taken, see what it took and trace your own roadmap.” [Stephanie C.]
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Nobody walks straight into a coveted role. Understanding exactly how that person got there will help you create your own roadmap for the next few months, years, or even decades.
Thankfully, the digital age has made this much easier. Once you’ve identified a person sitting exactly where you want to be, take a look at their profile on LinkedIn, make a note of the types of roles they’ve had and then create a list of the likely skills and experiences this provided them with.
OK, you might feel a bit like a stalker but trust me, it works.
Whatever the goal, break it down
“To reach your dream job goal, break the process down into bite sized, manageable tasks to get you there. For example, if you’re working with a coach, set a goal to have two or three 30-minute conversations per week or whatever your schedule allows.” [Joellen N.]
The thing about dream jobs? They’re both inspiring and terrifying all at the same time. And while it’s great to know where you want to end up, focus on smaller, more achievable tasks in moving your career in sustainability to the next stage. If you’re job hunting, focus on reworking your resume (start by taking a look at my tips here). Or if you feel like you’re stuck in a rut in your current role, set aside two hours to research alternative jobs that fit your skillset. Make it small, achievable and realistic.
Don’t be afraid to share your view
“Clearly define your position… During an interview for a dream job in responsible sourcing, I was asked about my position on the Uyghurs in China. I had lived in China and was very aware of what was happening. After I provided my answer, the hiring manager said he was impressed that I took a stance which was clearly aligned with my values. Being prepared to field these questions in a way that is authentic to you is the key to landing your dream job.” [Denise M.]
If you get to interview stage, the hiring manager already thinks you have the basic skills and experience needed for the role. But sitting face-to-face (or screen to screen) gives them a chance to get a sense of who you are, your values and how passionate you are about the impact agenda. So don’t be afraid to show them those things – it’s what sets you apart from the competition. Take a look here for more advice on how to interview with impact.
Don’t always take the obvious route
“Keep your mind open to anything new coming your way. Spend time understanding how it could fit into what you are trying to achieve and how it stacks up against your purpose.” [Allison G.]
Yes, it’s a cliché, but talk to anyone in a top role in sustainability and impact, and it’s unlikely they got there on a straight path. This sector is always evolving and always touching upon different industries, sectors and roles – make sure you don’t dismiss opportunities that, at first glance, look like they take you off on a tangent. Ask instead, what skills might I acquire? How does this role fit in with my values? What future opportunities could it bring my way? You may need an interim step to get where ultimately want to be so exploring options for the short-term step is a good idea.
See networking as a means to an end
“Networking often gets a bad rap. It can be time consuming, exhausting and often leads to a dead end. But it also happens to be one of the most vital components of any job search. It’s about exchanging ideas, developing new skill sets, establishing mutually beneficial relationships and finding that new job. If things go well you may meet your next mentor, colleague and quite possibly your next boss.” [Nicole R.]
It’s true, networking can feel like an absolute chore to many of us. But, done right, it can also be extremely effective. The trick is to stop seeing it as networking and start seeing it as relationship-building. That means looking to make friends, not contacts. It means keeping the conversation going beyond swapping business cards. Oh, and amid COVID-19, it means putting as much effort into online networking, as you would usually at physical events. For more advice, take a look at my guide to how to network (even if you hate it).
Don’t do it alone
“For me, the gamechanger was recognizing that I needed help and committing time and energy to make it happen. When you are aware that a career change is needed, it can be difficult and daunting to commit. Going through the process with a coach like Shannon gave me the accountability to reach deadlines of this lengthy process. That wouldn’t have happened had I been flying solo.” [Angelina W.]
Whether it’s a mentor, a colleague, a friend or a coach, find a person to act as your sounding board as you work out your next steps. Doing so can keep you accountable to your goals, but it can also provide much-needed perspective and, most importantly of all, a pep talk to keep your spirits up and momentum growing.