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3 ways to reach your career goals in 2017

Posted by James Hawley, EVP, Hays USA on Thursday, Dec 15, 2016

HAys Blog: 3 Steps to Reach your construction career goalsDo you know what your next career step is? We often hear ambitious construction professionals tell us where they want to go, but they don’t always have a plan to get there.

Don’t wait for your next opportunity to come along – take one of these practical steps to make sure 2017 is the year you get the job you want, the promotion you’re after, or the project you know you’re ready for.

How can you make it happen?

1. Figure out what you need to get there
If you know what your next career step is – whether internal or external – map the requirements to get there. Maybe you’re ready to take on a management position but need experience leading a team, or you want to move to a specialist firm and don’t have the required designation. You can’t create a plan if you don’t know what you need.

For example, if you want to progress internally to project management, talk to your current manager about what that career path looks like. If you applied for a role tomorrow what would stand out on your resume, and what would be missing? Once you know that, you can focus on filling those gaps in your knowledge and experience. Ask your manager to help you find stretch assignments to increase your capabilities, and find out if your company offers training or development support.

If you’re ready to move jobs, start by looking at job ads for the positions that interest you and compare the requirements to your resume. What’s missing? If you have the skill or experience but it’s not on your resume then that’s an easy fix. However, if you’re seeing common requirements that you don’t have, it’s time to figure out how to get that experience so you qualify for your dream job.

2. Invest in your own knowledge
So now you know what you need to get to your next career stage – it’s time to put in the work. When I say you need to invest in yourself, that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to spend a lot of money. Taking a course could be the quickest way to that job, but there are often multiple ways to get the skills you need.

If it’s an internal promotion you’re looking for, ask for opportunities to job shadow or go on secondment to get experience in other roles. Take advantage of any internal learning opportunities such as lunch and learns, online courses, or time off for training.

To prepare for applying to roles with other companies, do your research into the companies you want to work for and be aware of their main projects, overall culture, and why you want to work there. Invest time in networking to increase your local industry connections, and consider joining an association. Industry associations often have free or subsidized personal development courses, and it’s a great way to tap into the collective expertise.

3. Find a mentor
We surveyed 150 construction leaders and 87 percent said they had a mentor. A mentor can help you with both the above steps. With their insight into the industry, they can help you figure out where you want to go and what career path will make you happy and successful. They can also help you figure out what actions you can take to get there faster and what resources are available to you.

A mentor is more than just a career coach. They can help you identify and address your weaknesses to make you a better employee or manager, and can increase your industry connections giving you the advantage of their network as well as your own. A mentor can also be crucial in expanding your view and understanding of the industry. Where does your current role fit in the business, and how can you have more of an impact? If you want to become a business leader you need to understand that relationship, not only for your role, but for the range of roles in the company.

How do you find a mentor? Some organizations and associations have mentorship programs, which can match you with someone. But you can also just ask – most people are happy to help, depending on the time commitment. Use networking events to meet potential mentors and look for one who has the experience you want, and who is a good personality fit with you.

Consider giving back by becoming a mentor. This has personal advantages too, by helping you keep up with the frontline of the industry, as well as in touch with new technology and different generational viewpoints. According to the survey respondents, at the management level the balance between soft and technical skills tips, and soft skills become more important. By director level construction leaders spend three times as much time developing their soft skills as their technical skills.

Want more career planning advice? Request the Hays DNA of a VP of Construction report.

Find your next job in the listings below, or by searching your area.

Job TitleLocationJob ID
 Assistant Project ManagerTampa Bay1011712
Senior Project ManagerMaryland 1077554
 Preconstruction ManagerWashington DC 1011504
Project ManagerChicago 1010699
Project ManagerNew York 1011676


Talk to James Hawley, Hays EVP, about the US Construction market.

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