Exploring Career Stages for Success

Navigating Career Stages for Success

Chantal KadingA career transcends mere livelihood; it represents a voyage of individual maturation, contentment and self-definition. Analogous to any expedition, it entails traversing distinct stages to attain one’s objectives. Within this discourse, South African-based, Chantal Kading, Founder and Managing Director of The People Shop, delves into the phases of a career trajectory with SmartProcurement, and pinpoints prevalent obstacles to sidestep.

Stage 1: Entry Level

As a new entrant your first 90 days in an organisation or institution are crucial. Your first priority should be to learn and understand the politics of business. You may discover that what you learnt in school and the realities of the business environment are not the same. Most people forget this crucial step and jump straight into job mode.

Job mode should come after and involves learning the job functionally and technically by embracing failure, asking questions and refining your skills. Focus on soaking up as much as possible from your leaders and building a professional network that will support you through the coming stages.

Stage 2: Young Professional

As a Career Coach I advise staying in a job for more than 2 years, 18 months at the bare minimum and ideally 3 years. This will allow you to build your character and depth of competency as your skills are tested and you get the opportunity to demonstrate your ability to apply your foundational skills at a higher level by creatively solving problems as well as learning at a deeper level.

Stage 3: Professional

Job hopping is still too common, fueled by lack of internal mobility and lateral career options to expand the width of skills. If your goal is to grow towards leadership type roles, cultivating deeper expertise, cross functional exposure and soft skills will become crucial.

Too often, talented individuals may feel the need to leave a role or company too early due to a perceived lack of simulation or overdrive for stimulation, thus missing out on an opportunity to build deeper expertise. Post graduate programmes, mentorship and coaching are viable alternatives that professionals can explore to develop, test and refine leadership competencies while mastering their craft.

Stage 4: Maturity

This stage is the culmination of the decisions made thus far. Sadly, it’s not uncommon for highly driven professionals who failed to integrate other aspects of life to find themselves having lost their families, relationships or other personal goals. Maturity is often a time for reflection and asking big questions like “What am I here for and how can I give back?”. For some, answering these questions may involve assuming leadership roles, starting businesses, mentoring others, and finding purpose or means of contribution.

Building a successful career is a journey that begins with understanding the politics of business, gaining practical experience, developing expertise, achieving leadership and giving back through mentorship or creating a legacy. The journey should come full circle as a well-rounded career is one that goes beyond individual achievement to embody a sense of responsibility and contribution to others and the world.

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