3 Tools for Career Success
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You are the authority on your career direction, so why does your job feel like it’s not adding up to that big picture sometimes? Read on for some key tips I’ve picked up from the pros, and three tools that can help you in defining your career path.
Understand the small steps it takes to reach your larger goals.
Own your role as the CEO of your career. When envisioning what career success looks like to you, think about what gives you a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. Set your career goals based on your strengths, interests, and needs. By having those defined goals in mind, it’s easier to understand your successes and opportunities for improvement. If you take a snapshot of your current career, what do you see? How does it align with the mosaic that makes up that bigger picture of your career?
What have successful business analysis professionals done to become leaders?
Career paths aren’t usually linear, but morph with how you’ve adapted to the job market to take hold of your next job opportunity. That’s why it’s always been intriguing to me how well leaders of the business analysis community excel at advancing their career: they are so good at defining their career needs and planning how they will reach their goals to deliver the best value. Sound familiar as a business analysis practitioner?
Check in on your career plan more often than once a year when you set your work performance goals.
Break up your long-term plan into short-term achievements. These should be actionable steps you can complete now such as taking a skills development course – focused on hard or soft skills (easily transferrable) – or seeking out a mentor or sponsor.
Reassess your goals and change them as needed.
You may find out through more experience that your true skills lie in an area you may not have originally considered. You may discover an aptitude for leadership, public speaking, storytelling, needs assessments or you may find a passion for working in agile analysis, cybersecurity, change management or another area. Seek out opportunities to stretch outside your comfort zone to explore new responsibilities that will help you to develop your skills and talents. One easy way to gain experience is to ask to work on a new project or volunteer to get involved in new opportunities outside your everyday work.
Leverage the tools and resources available to you and elicit feedback from your peers.
Make a plan of action.
Your employer and associations like IIBA provide a lot of resources dedicated to helping you learn and structure your career goals. For example, IIBA offers its Members three career tools that help you piece together those snapshots to the bigger picture:
- Use the thirty-question Self-Assessment Tool to assess your current capabilities. The Self-Assessment tool consists of a series of statements and corresponding experience and performance indicators to determine your overall competency.
- Use the Competency Model to assess your understanding of BA foundational skills, tasks, techniques, and personal characteristics necessary to perform as a business analyst.
- Identify your personal areas of focus for professional development – at any experience level – using the Career Action Guide. This guide helps you understand how to take those snapshots of your career derived from the Competency Model and the Self Assessment Tool and bring it into the big picture of your overarching goals and achievements.
Elicit feedback from your peers.
It’s so important to share your career planning goals to get support from your boss and your mentor. IIBA Chapters and similar communities can help you connect with professionals virtually or in-person to get you out of your workplace’s silo and broaden your network of peers. Ask for feedback on your strengths and the areas where you could do some work to help you get to where you want to be. Be coachable – be open to feedback. We can always be learning, and we can always work on improving our skillsets.
What is success to you?
Sometimes your career path can run into obstacles and detours as it isn’t always a straight line to success but keep working on it. Tools like the Career Action Guide and feedback from your peers help you define your goals and develop your skills, but in the end, you define your own career success.
Continue to grow your network by building connections, celebrate your milestones and remember to check in regularly to see if you are on track or steering in a new direction. IIBA career resources can help you achieve your career goals at every stage of your journey.