How to fast track your career

Jobs expert James Reed’s new book is a 12-point guide to getting out of a rut and finding the career you want.

Upcycle Career


Are you unhappy in your job or feeling stuck?

You may be just a few years into your career, midway through or at a point where you have more of your working life behind you than in front of you, but whatever stage you are in, there is no point languishing there, according to a new book by jobs expert James Reed, chairman of REED recruitment.

The book, Life’s Work: 12 Proven Ways to Fast-Track Your Career, is out in January, the time of year when new beginnings are on many people’s minds.

The book is divided into 12 chapters and is a step-by-step guide to making that change. It all starts, says Reed, with knowing yourself, what you love doing at work, what you put off doing, what interests you, what kinds of people you like being with, what you value and what makes you feel most fulfilled.

The next step is to get yourself out there meeting people, creating the opportunity for interesting conversations, whether that is through attending events, joining online professional networks or volunteering. If you are shy, Reed has some suggested ice breaker lines. To get the ball rolling he suggests asking open questions such as what did you most enjoy about x event and listening are the key skills required.

Fast-growing industries

Next is finding out where your skills can be of most advantage. That means identifying fast-growing industries or sectors or job roles such as Fintech, artificial intelligence or mental wellbeing, through reading, keeping your eye on the ball and talking to people. Even if you consider yourself not great at technology, bear in mind that all sectors have a wide range of jobs available. Moreover, there are some jobs that are always in demand, like health and education.

The feel-good factor is vital for sustainable jobs, says Reed. That means, for instance, that it is important to find something that is meaningful to you, has a good fit when it comes to culture and allows you to do what you enjoy and try new things.

The book also covers having a positive mindset, setting yourself challenging goals that stem from your values, passion and purpose, focusing on day to day satisfaction as well as on longer term objectives, preparing for interviews through doing your research and rehearsing and having a positive work ethic.

The latter, says Reed, is not necessarily about working long hours – and these can lead to burn out in any event – but about being engaged, coming up with ideas and helping colleagues. He also advises that you let your manager know of your achievements – something women tend not to do as much as men – though it doesn’t have to be in a ‘look at me’ kind of way. He says: “You’ll have to find a way that works for your particular role and the culture of your organisation. When I think of the people in my company who have impressed me over the years, it’s those who have made constructive suggestions who stand out…If you want to draw positive attention to yourself, why not identify a pain point in your company and come up with a fresh way of looking at it? Then your work ethic will be as plain as day.”

Problem solving

Reed’s final points include not being afraid to ask for help and to offer it too and making sure when you apply for a role that is it one where you’re going to learn and keep learning.

He concludes: “Central to progressing your life’s work is recognising that a job is a problem to be solved, but a career is when you become a problem solver in a particular area. What does that mean? Well, the reason anyone is offered a job is simply because someone needs help. It might be practical…or intellectual…, but either way it’s a challenge looking for a resolution. When you show yourself to be proficient in solving that problem, you can move on to the next one and the next one after that. Once you’ve solved a string of problems that have something in common with each other…you build a CV that proves you’re an asset to your boss and team-mates.”

Those who do well, he says, are the people who have a growth mindset and don’t think they know it all. And he finishes by saying that everyone deserves a career that makes them happy, but that that won’t come about simply by wishing for it.

*Life’s Work: 12 Proven Ways to Fast-Track Your Career by James Reed is published on 9th January by little brown, price £13.99.


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