Strategise yourself to career success!

27 April 2016

Careers Manager Fay Watkin explores what advantages can be gained from using the tools, techniques and frameworks of strategy in order to analyse your career, plan your next move forward and ultimately gain a competitive edge:

Using the trappings of strategy can be a refreshing way of looking objectively at our working environment and career trajectories:

Know your environment

Whether you’ve hit stale mate in your existing sector, or you’re considering a change around, a great way of weighing up your options and assessing your competitive position is by looking at the external environment, but through the lens of personal career analysis.

Michael Porter, arguably the father of strategy, does this so eloquently through his famous Five Forces model, designed to assess industry attractiveness against five ever present forces .Therefore through applying this framework to yourself you should gain some clarity on how attractive the industry is in relation to you, and how robust your chances of success within it are.

Related Course: Full-time MBA

For example take Porter’s ‘Threat of Entry’, how easy is it to get to your current level of employment within your industry? Is the market diluted by an oversubscription of suitably qualified applicants?

If so this may increase the ‘Bargaining Power of Buyers’ (in this case employers) and could mean that wages plateau and opportunities for progression are limited, resulting in intense ‘Rivalry between Established Competitors’ (in this case rival professionals), with only the most dynamic standing a chance of career progression. 

This particular model can set an interesting back drop to your career forecasting and could help you decide on which sector your skill set could be the most lucrative within.

Analyse your resource capabilities

Arguably a solid foundation for career strategy is one that starts with a strengths and weaknesses analysis, allowing you more control over your ability to capitalise on strengths and safeguarding against weaknesses. Such analysis will shed light on the individual resources at your disposal.

For the purpose of competitive analysis resources can be categorised as tangible and intangible, so in relation to the individual the former could be seen as qualifications and technical skills, with the latter more definable as reputation and personal brand– therefore taking time to explore how well yours stand up will give you bases for identifying areas of improvement and goal setting.

Capabilities are more about what said resources have the potential to afford you, meaning a balanced synergy of both resource and capability is essential in order to gain a robust competitive advantage.

Image courtesy: Gabriel Saldana Flickr 
Mind games: A good strategy is the key gaining a competitive edge for individual success
Know your competitive points of difference and how to use them to best effect

Capitalising on your unique features is perhaps the most important thing you can do for your career progression, but ultimately being able to orchestrate these points of difference within your particular environment will allow you to add the most value to those around you.

Without knowing the worth others place on your points of difference exploiting them can prove fruitless. Instead try matching your capacity for differentiation to the attributes that best serve those around you-this requires careful external observation and reflection but will result the true value of their currency to shine through. Execute this well and undoubtedly you will gain a head and shoulders advantage against the rest, with career domination not far behind!

Further reading

Gain an overview on strategy and explore further the topics raised in this article in Robert M. Grant’s comprehensive book, ‘Contemporary Strategy Analysis’ (Wiley, 2013).

Many of our WBS courses, in particular our MBAs, cover strategy in relation to the wider business sphere - find out more about our MBA course here.

Join the conversation

WBS on social media