There’s one! There’s another one! Recognising and acting on opportunities

Posted in: Bloggery

Are successful careers based on luck, or on recognising and seizing opportunities? At Macfarlan Lane we work with individuals to help them seek out and capture opportunities.  It is not a case of hoping to get “lucky”, it is more one of researching areas of need, and building good intelligence and relationships. Here are three factors that can help you identify and act on opportunities:

Have a vision and know what you are looking for.

  • Think about a time, like when you’ve decided on a new car – you’ve decided on the size, make, model, colour, and then suddenly you start seeing them on the road? How does that happen?
  • Our brains are bombarded with information constantly and we need to make judgements about what to pay attention to. Having a vision in mind of what you are looking for is important. It gives the brain a framework with which to sift and sort information and bring the right opportunities to your attention.
  • The same goes for careers. If you have a clear picture in your mind of what you want, you will start seeing opportunities. Working with a career coach can be a very useful way to help you think through and articulate a realistic career vision.

Be visible in the hidden market and be well connected.

  • Around 80% of jobs are not advertised. How do you access this hidden market?  We recommend the following :
  • Build effective and reciprocal relationships with influential people so you will be in their line of sight when they hear of an opportunity that is right for you.
  • Connect particularly with key decision-makers who known to executive search and recruitment firms – they are the ones who the recruiters and search consultants go to when they want to develop a strong candidate list.
  • Selectively attend important business events, conferences and networking functions.
  • Nurture your network. Keep in touch regularly, send them articles of interest, connect them with people who could help their careers, refer work to them.
  • Build broad intelligence: read the business press, access research data bases through an effective career coaching service and study sectors and the organisations within them.  Take an interest in people in different fields and learn from them.
  • Have good judgement and the courage, To seize the moment.

Change involves risk. Take calculated risks. Make sure you know as much as you can about an opportunity, consult widely with people you trust and then make the judgement call.

A great example of seizing opportunities was described by Katherine Tey-White in Sideways To The Top.  As a young newspaper cadet Katherine learned that one of the rules of the game was that if you were able to secure an exclusive story, it would be yours. One of her favourite filmmakers of all time is Woody Allen.  When one of his new movies was coming out she rang the Australian representative of the movie company and was told there wouldn’t be an interview with Woody Allen made available in Australia.  She really wanted to do this interview so she found out who the New York agent for Woody Allen was, wrote to the agent, phoned them and generally badgered them as much as she dared until she had convinced them to give The Age newspaper and herself an interview with Woody Allen.  She went to the Chief of Staff and said, “I have won an exclusive interview with Woody Allen!”  Her boss was concerned about Katherine’s lack of seniority, but as she said, “they’re the rules”.  So she stuck by them and secured the interview.