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What Does Career Success Mean to You?

When you think about career success, what comes to mind?


Do you automatically think of a big salary, a high-profile role, lots of responsibility and a great work/life balance?


Everyone has their own definition of career success, but you need to know what matters to you. That's the only way you can make decisions about your career that are right for you – and nobody else.


Look at it this way ...


Did you know you spend approximately 72,000 hours at work over your lifetime? That’s assuming you work for 40 years of your life and work just 37.5 hours per week.


That’s a lot of time.


So it’s important you do something you enjoy that’s fulfilling, feels purposeful and delivers a lifestyle that makes you feel happy and satisfied.


Above all, you need to remember that career success isn’t about having it all, it’s about having what matters to you. So, how do you figure that out and why is it important?



What does career success mean?


There's no one-size-fits-all definition of career success. But you can work out when someone’s career hasn’t been or isn’t successful.


  • They’re miserable at work and may be depressed.
  • Their lifestyle sucks – long hours, long commute, lots of stress.
  • They live for the holidays and weekends – and even retirement.
  • No matter how many times they change their job or career, they’re not happy.
  • They don’t earn what they want and need for an enjoyable life.
  • They’re unfulfilled in themselves and are not living up to their potential.


If any of those points describes you, it's time to take a good hard look at how you should be defining career success.


What defines career success to you?


If you want true career success you need to get clear on your purpose and the direction you want to go in with your work. Most successful people are very clear about what they want from life and from their career.


But knowing what you want can be difficult to work out. If you’re not sure, try asking yourself a series of questions about what you like, what you aspire to achieve and how you want to feel about your work.


Work on creating a vision of your ideal day or week. What do you see yourself doing? How do you want your day to start? What sort of culture do you want at work? Do you want a lot of responsibility, to travel as part of your work or to be the person on stage at a conference? Or do you want to work quietly and mostly on your own, have regular hours and not have to manage others?


Are you willing to commute or do you want to live close to work so you can maximise your leisure time? Do you want time in your day or week for your family and friends or are you willing to work long hours so you can have the career you want?


There are so many options and it can be hard to know what it will feel like to have what you want.


When you think of what you could have, find an example in your life when you had the same thing. Was there a time when you worked as part of a team or when you worked alone? Which did you prefer? Or do you want a mix of both?


By trying different scenarios in your imagination, you can work out the kind of career you want. You may have to effort to get where you want to go, but by having a target or goal you want to achieve, you can check your progress. There are a number of areas you need to consider when thinking about this.


  1. Your status within your field and your community.
  2. Your level of fulfilment and sense of achievement.
  3. Your working hours and level of pressure.
  4. Your commute and daily life.
  5. Your work environment.
  6. Your salary or earning potential.
  7. Your ability to fulfil your personal potential.
  8. Your opportunities to learn, grow and develop.


What else would you need to include in this list so you can build a picture of what career success looks like for you?



How do you find success in your career?


You now know that the key to finding success in your career is to make sure you know what you’re aiming for. Of course, you might change your mind as you go along, but by setting a goal you’ll at least you’ll know if go off-course at any point.


By having a career goal, you can start to manage your career. You can assess where you are so you know when the time is right to make your next move. That means you can ensure you’re ready for change by planning what training and skills you need as well as taking time to develop your profile.


Managing your career like this will keep you motivated because you’ll be in control of what you do and when. It also means that when you decide to invest in further training or new skills or experience, you’ll be fully committed to getting the best possible results.


Why personal branding is essential to career success


One factor that will help you succeed in your career is building your own personal brand: one that represents who you are, what you do and how you communicate.


That image needs to be consistent when you interact with others personally and when you represent yourself online. This is why it’s important to ensure your LinkedIn and Twitter social media profiles are well-managed and that you put yourself across in the way you want to be perceived.


The better your brand and the more you embody it, the more likely you are to get noticed and be taken seriously. When you create a strong and attractive brand, you will have more success and this in turn will strengthen your brand. You’ll stand out more and you’ll raise your own standards to protect your brand.


So ensure you create a brand that represents you at your best so you stand out from the crowd. But how do you do that?



Here are five ways to build your personal brand.


1. Build an audience

When you have a business audience on LinkedIn and Twitter, it shows people are interested in you and that makes you stand out. The best way to create an audience is to say something of interest: have a message or style that makes you visible. The easiest way to build an audience is by writing posts on LinkedIn, writing a book or through public speaking presentations. When a company is making a decision between hiring you or someone else, your profile will ensure people will pay attention to you. Your high profile will raise the profile of the company you work for, and that’s value not many candidates can offer.


2. Manage your profile

There’s no point having a profile if it’s poor-quality. So make sure your social profiles are up to date and that you have basics in place including a professional headshot, an attention-grabbing description and well-presented information. That makes a huge difference. When someone looks you up online they will see instantly that you take care of your image, that you're actively managing it and that you have high standards. Add some interesting posts, a great network and a large following and you have a profile that makes others stop and take notice of you.


3. Create a strong network

You’ve no doubt heard the cliché that it’s not what you know it’s who you know.


When you have excellent and warm connections via your network, you instantly have access to information, advice and help whenever you need it. Reaching out to a cold network doesn’t bring great results but when you reach out to a warm network, you can quickly solve problems and even find a new role quickly. So work at getting to know people in your network. Write posts that help others and make you a go-to person in your industry or field. Once you become known as an expert, you’ll become valuable in your network and raise your brand profile as well.


4. Be willing to stand out

You’ll never get noticed unless you’re willing to stand out. And that means doing things that others consider difficult or scary, like public speaking. When you’re looking for opportunities to get noticed, publishing and public speaking will help you stand out and enhance your brand. You could also look at featuring as an expert in the press and on TV. Decide how you want to be known and what you want to be known for, then look for opportunities to share your ideas. Soon you’ll start getting offered high-profile opportunities and invitations.


5. Know what you want

Of course, none of this will happen unless you know what career success looks like to you. Only then can you create a brand that will help you achieve your goal. Your brand needs to be congruent with who you are – there’s no point trying to make yourself into something you’re not. You’ll just be miserable. True career success will enable you to do work you love, pay you well and help you shine. Once you know how to do this, you can build a brand and a career that will deliver success in every way.


How do you create a lifetime of career success?


If you want to have a successful career you’ll need to continue to review your career throughout your life.


Set yourself the goal of doing an evaluation of your career every six months or every year. Look at your criteria for career success and ask yourself whether your work fulfils that criteria. If not, ask yourself whether you need to change your job or your criteria.

A lifetime of career success means a lifetime of career assessment. Monitor your career, be aware of how changes in yourself and your life will affect your choices so you can stay motivated and feel fulfilled by your work.


Do you want us to help you become more successful?


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