What do you enjoy?
When we were young...
It is so often instilled in us from an early age that good career progression equals a move into people management. This is probably from films, news, seeing family members in prominent roles, etc - but why?
When at school/college/university we pick our topics & subjects based on what we like and enjoy – what we find the most interesting. Then when we enter the professional job market, we aim for positions which sound interesting or focus on a skill we excelled at during education. We do this because they sound fun and hopefully will give us the ability to develop our skillset.
Here’s the deal
We should always keep this initial approach in job searching. What you find interesting or enjoy, you will naturally excel at and hopefully become the “go-to” person for - this is still career progression: being top of what of you enjoy, a subject matter expert! It is here that you can also command a higher salary.
We are not all designed to be people managers...
I’m certainly not saying people management is a bad career choice, because some people are definitely made for it and enjoy it; that’s the right choice for them. But some of us just aren’t and that’s OK! (I’m sure we’ve all interacted with both types at some point and you know which pot they fall into).
What I am saying is, you know what you enjoy. If you’re leaning towards leadership then great, but don’t feel pressurised to head this way to progress your career if it’s not for you, there are other ways to progress.
What we've experienced...
At VRS, we speak to many Scientists turned Lab Managers/Department Heads. Some love it, but others have found that they are so far removed from the “science” over time (occupied with the associated admin of people management – holidays, sick leave, interviews, scheduling, P&L, appraisals, etc...) that they don’t enjoy their job any more. They miss the lab. It is important to recognise that there are many ways to progress your career in a technical capacity.
However, if you are one of these people that enjoy motivating others, sharing knowledge, excel at multitasking in & out of the lab, are a true ‘people person’ and don’t feel that you’ll miss “the bench”, then management could be a good option for you!
So where do we go from here...?
Who doesn’t love a good list?!
Start with writing out your key technical and soft skills.
Technical Skills examples:
Soft Skills examples:
First, identify the skills you enjoy and want to retain. Then identify the skills you would like to gain or develop further (soft & technical). Now you have an overall list of your key requirements and the progression options you’re searching for!
Sector – should I stay or should I go?
The final piece in the puzzle is industry sector e.g. environmental, pharma, biotech, flavours & fragrances etc... It may be that you have transferrable skills between these, in which case you can keep your search very broad, or looking to remain/move into a specific sector. In the latter instance, aim to draw parallels in a covering letter or follow-up your application with a call to enhance your application.
We hope this helps! If you would like further advice please do not hesitate to contact VRS Recruitment. We are here to help and if you are looking for a career shake up, do seek our advice on the best approach.
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