Steps to build a solid career roadmap
The Great Resignation changed the balance of power for employers and employees in all sectors.
Of course, it is completely understandable that young employees take this opportunity to find jobs with the best financial returns. However, these same professionals should place their job searches in the context of their larger career roadmap. Once they land in a new company, how will they move forward to build a career they can be proud of? In the short term, jumping from one business to another can prove to be the most lucrative. However, this approach can limit your long-term potential.
Over the course of my career, I have identified three key milestones that are critical to building a successful career roadmap both in the context of my own experiences and in the careers of those I have interviewed and hired. Although my professional career has focused on people, processes, and technologies in the field of consultative problem solving, data engineering, and analytics, following these steps can work just as well for anyone. one who is pursuing a career as a lawyer or even a concert pianist. .
1. Understand the main components of your domain
Every industry has a common language that includes several fundamental elements. In data analytics, these include technology, math, and business/domain expertise. Specifically, it involves a specific set of tools and strategies, including programming languages like SQL and open-source platforms like TensorFlow.
For a lawyer, common language includes volumes of case law and established precedents – the shared knowledge and experience that underpins our legal systems. For a concert pianist, the components include music theory, interpretation and mastery of a body of repertoire: the major works of composers like Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Chopin.
Achieving a thorough understanding of the language of your profession is a prerequisite for long-term success. Experts and hiring managers in your industry will be able to quickly assess you based on your proficiency in the specialized language of your industry. Domain knowledge and understanding doesn’t require a young employee to spend their entire career in one place, but it’s important to ensure that constant change doesn’t slow or limit your growing knowledge base.
2. Apply a T-model approach
While it’s important to have a well-rounded understanding of the essentials of your profession, you set yourself up for greater success when you become a specialist in a field and become known for your specific expertise. In data analysis, some employees may become well known for their ability to use a specific tool to solve a class of problems. This tool won’t work for all challenges, but using it effectively can solve many of the most common issues we encounter.
This type of expertise is what differentiates a highly qualified employee from a newcomer to the market, and it is called a T-shaped skill set. This is based on the premise that you can’t be master of everything – you can be master of one thing and a servant of many. An employee will need to have a basic understanding of a wide range of topics (the “language” I mentioned above). However, their ability to add value will depend on the depth of their knowledge in a single area of interest.
During your career, you can become indispensable to your employer by being able to solve a problem that no one else can. A South Dakota commercial real estate attorney will always be called upon for a specific subset of cases. Likewise, a pianist who truly masters the concertos of a popular composer will find himself constantly in demand to play with large orchestras. Developing T-shaped skills requires dedicated work, and that expertise can be hard to come by without staying in one place and gaining a full understanding of the challenge.
3. Invest in longevity
There are many engineers who have impressive expertise in a very specific field. However, only a small fraction of these engineers will rise to the top of their field or become leaders in a larger company. Why? The answer lies in longevity and how these engineers used their time.
Spending years in the same company, evaluating the same challenges, allows you to look at them from different angles. Going deep into the problem from one angle will give you great technical expertise, but it will make you unable to talk about it with other people – dry technical knowledge will prevent you from finding a common language.
On the other hand, leaders who repeatedly look at the challenge from a fresh perspective will find themselves better able to connect their insights to broader business goals and trends. Having the ability to visualize your expertise in context and explain its importance to strangers is essential for a successful and lasting career.
Whether you’re a lawyer, pianist, chef, accountant, or data analyst, there’s an incredible opportunity now to lay the roadmap for a successful career. Keeping these three facets in mind will allow any young employee to grow in the industry of their choice and find a leadership position. Resist the urge to keep jumping, instead do the hard work necessary to become indispensable.
Rajan Sethuraman is CEO of LatentView Analytics.