Go public with your aspirations
The conversation starts like this. I’m asked for career advice. My first question is always: What is your career aspiration? Most of the time people can tell me after some prompting. But when I ask who else knows about their aspirations, I often get a perplexed stare. Some will say their mentor, a few will say their manager or their spouse. But those aren’t the right answers. The answer should be, EVERYBODY.
Yes everybody. If people don’t know what you are working towards, how will they know how to help you? Helping can be as simple as making a connection, or passing along an opportunity they heard about. It can be a referral to a conference or event. It can also manifest in new types of job opportunities that build needed skills.
I was a junior executive at IBM and wanted an overseas assignment based in Japan. A stint in Japan appeared to be a key stepping stone towards the IBM C-Suite and that was my aspiration. Well there aren’t that many executive openings in Japan and they certainly weren’t publicized. So I began telling all the executives I knew that a Japanese assignment is what I wanted. 18 months later, one of the executives that I told called me and asked if I was still interested. I said yes and he put my name on the list of candidates to be considered for a role he had opening. I ultimately got that job.
Use your voice and your networks to support you by letting them know where you want to go. People can’t help you achieve your goals unless they know what they are. So go public!