On Thursday the 28th of February, intelliHR hosted the AHRI Mining and Resources Network. The panel featured Wendy Pavey, a personal brand strategist from Executive Brand, Fiona Murdoch, a Board Member from Building Queensland, Jane Lowney, the National Head of Engineering & Infrastructure at Robert Walters Recruitment and Dr Diane Harner, a Neuroscientist and the Managing Director of CleverMinds Consulting.
The panel shared their experiences of what techniques worked well for them to progress their careers and what lessons they learned that perhaps didn’t play out as well. Although they have a range of different experiences, and entirely different sets of skills, their narratives about ‘putting yourself out there’ have a common theme of learning to ‘back yourself’. The panel also spoke on their journeys to become a ‘learned extrovert’. They shared their collective stories about pitching, networking, social media, finding mentors and how to deal with self-doubt. Keep reading to learn how you can back yourself into the position you want.
You never know when you may need to whip out a quick description of who you are and what you do. Whether it be introducing yourself at a networking event to a quick introduction to the chair of the board in the elevator, it comes in handy to have something prepared and ready to go. Wendy Pavey spoke on how to craft one of these. It should be quick, succinct and not just convey your position title but the value you bring to your company. Wendy also emphasised the need to perfect your pitch when portraying yourself in interviews. Storytelling can be an art, however, it’s best to keep it simple when talking to employers. Her tip was to narrow your story down to three key points:
Networking can be a fantastic opportunity to expand your network and meet others in your industry, but it can also induce a lot of anxiety. Getting the most out of networking events often means taking yourself out of your comfort zone. Smaller networking events can be better to attend as they’re less overwhelming than a convention centre full of people where it’s hard to find anyone. Jane Lowney recommends reviewing the attendee list prior to the event and picking from that list at least two people you’d like to meet, this way you’re focused on a plan and more likely to follow through.
As Jane put it:
“Make the effort to meet new people. There’s no point of turning up with one of your friends, have a glass of wine and going away knowing nobody else. The point is to meet other people, otherwise just go for a drink with your friend.”
Much like networking, LinkedIn can be a powerful tool to increase your professional presence, but it can also be difficult to gain the courage to post new content. Dr. Diane Harner delves into the neurological reasoning as to why we feel apprehension prior to posting. We all have that primitive instinct of needing to belong to a group, that’s where we are more protected and that’s where we feel we can find success. It’s this fact that underpins our aversion to being evaluated negatively by others. Fear of mistakes and self-doubt is what stops us from putting ourselves out there. Diane linked this reasoning as a method to overcoming the fear, as once you’re aware of why you may be feeling a certain way, it makes it easier to overcome.
“Unfortunately, our society has moved faster than our brain can evolve.”
Mentors can link you from where you currently are, to the position you’d like to be in. Having someone in your industry that you can rely on for their expertise and experience is invaluable to how you plan and track your career. The panel advised of the distinction between a coach and a mentor. A coach is someone who focuses on you bettering yourself and a mentor is someone who has experience and wisdom about the path that you’re on. Thinking about asking someone to be your mentor is a step in the right direction but once you’ve identified a candidate you have to take the initiative and actually verbalise the ‘will you mentor me?’ question.
Jane Lowney spoke on the need to go after the job you want. When going after a job, you shouldn’t aim to fulfil 100% of the duties detailed on the description. This will leave a problem for you, and your boss, because if you can already complete all of the required tasks then there is no room for you to grow in your position. She recommends that there should be a small gap between your capabilities and what you could achieve with a bit more experience. You should know 70% and be ready to learn the next 30%. Another important piece of advice to coincide with the last point is to never lead with the gaps you have. If you’re starting off an interview or a call with how you don’t know point 1 or point 2 but you’re fantastic at point 3 then you’ve probably already lost the job. Have confidence in what you’re good at and use your experience as proof of your ability to grow as an employee.
Imposter syndrome occurs when someone achieves a position which they may feel that they are unqualified for or don’t have enough experience to complete the job to a sufficient quality. Fiona Murdoch shared some fantastic tips for how to overcome this. The best way to overcome the intruding thoughts of ‘how did I fool everyone’, it’s always best to remember the experiences you’ve had previously and how they relate. If you have the advantage of a few years under your belt then this can often bridge a possible knowledge gap. The transition from technical roles into leaderships ones is always going to be a tough change and does require a lot of soft skills. Fiona also advises that there are always courses available to those looking to upskill themselves if they still feel that they are too far out of depth.
The primary theme that can be pulled from these points, and from the panel as a whole, is that the most important action you can take, is action. You’re not going to achieve the success you want, unless you make the effort in putting yourself out there. Thinking and planning can only go so far, but the most important step is the first one so be sure to make it with confidence. But of course, don’t forget to back yourself!
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