Read Up. Skill Up. Be In Demand
Are you too much of a career generalist? These days, it pays to become a specialist in your field – quite literally.
If you think of any successful business leader, it’s very easy to define what they do. They themselves can articulately explain what they’re good at, and why they are valuable to their business.
This is completely deliberate. By finding your career niche, you will stay front-of-mind for many people, and may even progress to becoming an industry leader, or build an entire business around what you do.
1. Define Your Dream Job
There’s no point starting down the career path if you don’t know your end destination!
Before building towards a career niche, take the time to assess where you are now. Are you happy in this line of work? Does the business you’re at give you the scope to grow and evolve?
A career niche takes time to build and fall into, so it’s important you approach it strategically. Define what your dream job will be, and look to others who are already there – or somewhere similar – and how they progressed to that point.
Once you have a plan, you’ll be able to start working towards your niche with a sustainable, long-term approach.
But remember, “there’s no straight path to where you are going”. It’s a piece of advice that Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, lives by. So be sure to keep reminding yourself of your end destination, but don’t be afraid of taking steps away from the planned path – they might turn out to be shortcuts.
2. Align Your Values and Goals
Now that your destination is set, it’s a good time to try and understand what motivates you. Why is it important to change your industry? What makes you the right person for the job?
By knowing what you stand for – and conversely, what you don’t – you’ll be able to identify fitting opportunities that will help you to progress, and avoid those that won’t. New job opportunities, events, and even press features will start to shape your career niche.
Think of it like you’re curating a collection of moments. When you take a step back, you’ll be able to see a bigger picture of change, growth, and yourself at the centre of it. And to others, this will become obvious too.
3. Get In With the Right Crowd
Once you’ve found your path, end goal, and the core values that motivate you, it’s time to get yourself known.
Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com, says, “Be unapologetically true to yourself, both in business and in life in general. If you do, and broadcast that to the world, over time the right people will find you.”
This can be broken down into two parts. First, you’ll need to learn to shout about yourself. This doesn’t mean tactless self-promotion; instead, try developing a personal brand and sticking to it both on- and off-line.
Second, find the right people. This can be as simple as meeting with movers and shakers at your workplace, or going to fitting networking events near you.
4. Develop Your Own Style
Finally, when you’re planned, prepared, and in the right place, it’s time to create your own style.
Mark Cuban, Entrepreneur and Investor, says “You’ve got to know where you are good, and where you are not good”. In short, identify your strengths and weaknesses.
When you can play to your strengths, you’ll accelerate your journey towards your end goal – for example, if you’re a great public speaker, try to do more presentations, face-to-face meetings, and get onto panel talks.
And for all your weaknesses, there are others who can support you in those areas. You don’t – and can’t – be the best at everything, but you can make the most of others’ skills. We recommend taking a personality test to help you get started.
Finally, it’s crucial to create your own path, rather than copy someone else. They undoubtedly experienced opportunities that may not be open to you, and you don’t want to end up in a career niche that’s already been filled!