The beginning of a new year provides professionals with the perfect opportunity to evaluate their career, but there are many factors to consider before planning ahead, says Alistair Cox (pic), CEO of recruiting experts, Hays.
January and February are times of the year when people identify the changes they want to make in their personal and professional lives – including thinking about a change in, or advancing, their career. Alistair discusses the considerations professionals should take into account in order to achieve their goals in 2018 and beyond.
Alistair Cox began his career as an engineer in 1982, and over the years he has made substantial changes to his professional journey, ultimately becoming the CEO of the FTSE 250 recruitment business, Hays. In his latest LinkedIn Influencer blog, Alistair shares the lessons he has learned along the way.
1. Don’t pigeon hole yourself
Professionals must be careful not to pigeon hole themselves to one particular role or industry, in the long term this could have an adverse effect on their career, stopping them from exploring their passions and skills. By moving to a different industry or a new role, professionals will be presented with new challenges and different ways of working, expanding their skillset and increasing their employability. Alistair states, “That in turn helped me knock down many of the perceived barriers I thought were in front of me, realising they were only barriers in my own mind. As a result, I felt liberated to tackle things that in the past would have filled me with dread, and I think that helped make me a better person as well as a better professional.”
2. Don’t be afraid to take a leap of faith
Employers value adaptable, inquisitive candidates and as a result, professionals must consider all options available to them, including working abroad or taking an unfamiliar role. Alistair explains, “Over the years I’ve learnt to never dismiss an opportunity out of hand, no matter how daunting that opportunity may feel at the time. Your future is not preordained but becomes the outcome of the decisions you can consciously take today. Following this mantra can take your career into new and exciting directions that you may never have thought about before.”
3. Don’t be afraid to take risks
It is important for professionals to step outside of their comfort zone, even if they feel comfortable at that point in their career, as this will provide more options for the future. Alistair explains, “The world of work is inherently risky – you’re constantly dealing with shifting markets, competition and a host of internal factors. Those who play it safe will muddle on, but those who take measured gambles are often the ones who reap the largest rewards.”
4. Surround yourself with the best people
Alistair states that a key driver of his own success has been a result of the people around him and this is an important factor in any professionals working life. Alistair advises as well as having a team that is able to look forward, a cultural fit is also extremely important. Alistair explains, “I’ve always prioritised personality fit when assembling a team, since achieving results in any business often requires a mixture of individuals working together seamlessly. You need to get a wide range of skills, experience and ways of seeing the world around the table.”
5. Stay true to your North Star
Alistair says it is important to have a ‘North Star’ – a focus to drive your long-term vision and personal values. Alistair explains, “In business and in our careers, we can often be overwhelmed by a deluge of differing opinions and noise, but maintaining a focus provides a guiding light and the opportunity to simplify a situation and decide on the best course of action in the midst of the confusion. Setting out a single key priority, either for career or business has enabled me to navigate the various crashes, boom periods and personal setbacks of the last 30 years.”
6. Don’t push yourself beyond the limit
Alistair stresses the importance of not succumbing to stress while pursuing a target and it’s essential to switch off with non-work activities from time-to-time, enabling professionals to tackle challenges with a fresh mind. “Yet while focus on your North Star is crucial, you should never spend your entire time in pursuit of it at all costs. Sometimes it pays to pause and reflect, even during the working day. Completing one task and immediately rushing onto the next one can lead to fatigue, burnout and leaves no time to “check-in” with what you’re trying to achieve in the first place.”