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Deliver Your Talents: Making Yourself Invaluable at Work

A learning mindset is one of the best ways to ensure your future.

Note: This is the last post of a five-part series on the 4D Career Development framework I use with clients. The 1st phase of the process is Discover Your Strengths, the 2nd phase is Develop Your Vision, the 3rd is Design Your Path, and this post will deal with the 4th and final phase: Deliver Your Talents.

If you are currently employed or in school, you are in the "Deliver Your Talent" phase. You have the opportunity to demonstrate your many skills, and develop even more. Theoretically, you have already defined your strengths, decided on a career goal, gone through the steps to get there—and now you’ve arrived! It could be that you are at a full-time job, an internship, a summer job, or perhaps just opened your new business. You might be a full-time student demonstrating your ability to do well academically while joining clubs or sports or other activities to demonstrate the breadth of your skills and interests.

The bottom line is that you have achieved what you set out to achieve. (Maybe—perhaps you have landed somewhere that, while not your first choice or original plan, is still an opportunity to demonstrate your skills and build new ones. If that’s the situation, see what you can do to make the most of it while you're there and continue to look around for other opportunities.)

Now that you have arrived, you’re likely asking yourself, “What now? Now that I’ve landed the opportunity I want, how do I make the most of it?” Welcome to the Deliver phase of the 4D Career Development process where you are starting to live out your plan and move toward your ultimate career goal. This is the time to think about what skills you need to develop to grow in your current role, and where you might want to go next. If you’re just starting out in your role, has a good blog about how to succeed at your new job.

During the Deliver phase you might want to:

  • Assess what capabilities you would like to develop to be able to perform at your best.
  • Consider creating a professional development plan.
  • Learn how to network at your current organization.
  • Assess your opportunities for growth and promotion in the organization.
  • Develop a good relationship with your supervisor—and your supervisor’s supervisor.
  • Find a mentor in your organization who can help you “learn the ropes” quickly and avoid tricky office politics.
  • Work with a career coach to discuss your career development plans.
  • Change any social media to reflect your new position and look to develop a network of colleagues.
  • Investigate opportunities to join a professional association related to your current or desired career field.
  • Step out of your comfort zone, and offer to assist with projects outside your immediate purview. If possible, select opportunities that dovetail with personal interests or where you can acquire new knowledge.
  • Practice job-crafting to tailor your position toward your strengths and preferences.

The Deliver phase is a good time assess where you are: what skills are you currently using, what skills would you like to develop while you’re in this role, and where might you want to go next? The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) surveyed employers and created a list of 8 key competencies employers are seeking:

  • Critical Thinking/Problem Solving
  • Teamwork/Collaboration
  • Professionalism/Work Ethic
  • Oral/Written Communications
  • Leadership
  • Digital Technology
  • Career Management
  • Global/Multi-cultural Fluency

Take note of how you are developing and/or using these competencies in your current role, and how you might explain that to a future employer.

Finally, but perhaps most importantly, focus on learning. Read books about your field, and watch videos that will help you build up skills and knowledge more rapidly. Are there education or training opportunities you could take advantage of? Does your organization offer employee training? Should you consider a certificate program or even a part-time graduate school program? Here’s a great blog post from The Muse about inexpensive ways to develop your career.

Once you've developed new knowledge and experienced some successes, how can you share what you've learned with others? Consider presenting at a regional or national conference for your professional association. Write articles for blogs, newsletters, etc. Writing and presenting in your career field are two of the best ways to become known and stand out.

Those of you who have been in the Deliver phase for a while might be ready to move forward into a new opportunity. Maybe you just saw a great new job opening and are considering applying. Or maybe you have been in your current role for a while and are hoping to move up in your organization. Or you might simply be ready to leave your current employer and find a new one. If so, then, guess what—you’re back in Discover again and it’s time to start the 4D cycle all over again.

I hope this system is helpful as you move forward in your career plans, wherever you are in the process. It's a system that is simple to grasp, yet broad enough to work for most situations. You can find a much greater in-depth treatment of the system in my book, You Majored in What? Designing Your Path from College to Career.

© 2018 Dr. Katharine S. Brooks. All rights reserved.