The “Role Trap” in Our Career Development

Spread the love

Chance favours the prepared mind

How often have you heard someone talk about their career history and say something like “but that was just luck” or “I was just in the right place at the right time”?

French chemist Louis Pasteur coined the above phrase to describe how scientists need to be clear on what they are looking for if they are going to make that “chance” discovery.

So too in career exploration, where you need to have “a prepared mind”:  to maximise any opportunities that might come along by chance; to generate more “chances”; to be able to judge the relevance and value to you of the opportunity…

The prepared mind has two components:

  1. Knowing yourself – this includes knowing your values, your definition of success or purpose, your strengths, your interests and your preferences for type of role, boss/manager or workplace
  2. Developing the skills to explore career options and navigate your career on an ongoing basis.  These include curiosity, persistence, resilience, flexibility, optimism and risk-taking.  Each of these is a continuum from “not great” to “I’ve got heaps of that”

What to do next?

Apply to you – Look at each skill in the list and reflect on which is your greatest strength and which is the most challenging.

The “Role Trap” in our Career Development

What “role” are you currently in?  What name does it have?  Does the role description really capture all that you are capable of?  It does not have to be “once an engineer, always an engineer”

When you are exploring your career and seeking to make change, it is critical not to get caught in the Role Trap.  Thinking only in terms of roles can box you in.  Instead, looking at “skills and experiences” rather than being limited to “roles” can open out your thinking.  It also helps you build an effective CV full of skills that can be useful for a broader range of roles than you previously thought.

So, the tip is to write down all the skills and experiences you have, as if an interviewer asked you “what can you do for us?”.   Think laterally. Then, you can work out two things:

  1. What roles need those skills and experiences?
  2. What are the skills and experiences that I need to “collect” from here on to enhance my CV and help me meet my longer-term career goals?

What to do next?

Apply to you. Take some time to actually look at your role, and how it not only affects you, but how you perceive it to affect your choices.