This section refers to those career opportunities generated internally within an organization. If you are leaving your company/career to enter another, then skip to the next section. The activities recommended in this section will help you to create a network within your own company/organization. You now know people in different organizations and they know you. You know what they do and they know what you do. If you maintain that contact, then all of those people are also aware of your achievements, both within your job function and your professional development. Of course, not everyone will know everything about you. People will know enough about you that it is reasonable to hope that your name comes to mind when opportunities appear and that they either let you know or put your name in as a possibility.
Of course, with all that work and success, waiting is still passive. Figure out how to stir things up a bit and, now and then, create an opportunity. To create an opportunity for yourself, you must become a problem solver. Most careers today involve problem solving. For example,
- How do we design a product?
- How do we deliver a service?
- How do we tell people about what we do?
- How do we keep track of our money?
- How do we make sure that everyone is doing what they’re supposed to do?
Given this premise, to create an opportunity you must identify a problem or challenge area within the company. It may be that something is not being done well because of a variety of reasons. It may be that as a result of changes within the company, a new problem or challenge has arisen. It may be that two people (or more) are each doing part of what reasonably could be considered a single job. There are always problems and challenges in any organization.
Then, the challenge for you is to match up your assets – skills, knowledge, experience, expertise, and talent – with the available challenges. If you find a challenge that you can address, you have the opportunity to bring that situation – and your solution – to the attention of the appropriate people.
Stating the Problem
Step one is to clearly identify and articulate the problem or challenge. If you visit with your manager or another manager within the company and you cannot clearly state the problem you see, then you will not be able to generate an opportunity for yourself.
A clear problem statement might be: “I have seen that Joe and Mary are required for [some kind of] project. Their responsibilities and skills seem to overlap in a number of areas. It is taking the two of them more time than it would take one person alone, if that person could handle both of their roles. I would like to talk about how I think we can reduce time and costs in this situation.”
Making the Case
There’s a fine line between shameless self-promotion and benefiting the organization and yourself. When you observe a problem, your goal is never to diminish the contributions of others. Rather, you are always looking for ways to benefit the organization through a greater contribution or unique contribution.
For example: “While Joe and Mary each do a good job, it would be more effective for the company if we have one person filling their two partial roles. In that way, Joe and Mary are free to focus on their areas of expertise. Our projects would spend less time on communication and more time on being productive and we would likely finish sooner with less effort.”
Hopefully, whether it is your direct manager, or the manager of another group, they will already be at least basically familiar with your skills and areas of expertise. However, as noted above, it is up to you to make sure that they have all the information that they need. For example: “I have the same skills and expertise as both Joe and Mary. I would like the opportunity to work on the next project of this type and show you what I can do in those circumstances.”
Closing the Deal
Part of your goal in taking on new opportunities is to further your career. That may include changes in your salary or benefits. When you have shown that you understand how the organization works, have the perception to identify problem areas, and the skills and expertise to address problem areas, you are also demonstrating that you have greater value to the organization. In this case, it is reasonable to ask for some reward.