My Career is my business.

My Career is my business.

By Sarah Taylor.

Many people choose a career path early, or they simply “fall into” a job, and thereafter allow their employer and their circumstances to dictate how their career develops.

It’s hardly surprising, therefore, that nearly half of employees aren’t particularly happy at work, nor that such a significant proportion feel that they are undervalued and underpaid.Those who are fulfilled, well remunerated, valued and stimulated at work are either the highly fortunate few who stumbled on their dream  job almost by accident, or those that approach the business of their career as just that – business.

After all, business can be defined as “an organisation or economic system where goods and services are exchanged for money”. 

Isn’t that exactly what you are doing when you go to work? And just as successful businesses benefit from planning, research, marketing, selling and negotiation, so will your career.

Invest in yourself

Timely and intelligent investment is key to the growth of every successful business. It’s also important to the development of your career. Sitting back and waiting for your employer to invest in you means that you aren’t controlling the timing, the quality or the nature of the investment.

Invest in yourself ...

YOU are the person who will most benefit from investing in yourself.  You will always retain your knowledge, skills and experience, and actively managing this ‘asset base’ will ensure that it grows exponentially and appropriately, and will demonstrate your initiative and commitment to colleagues and employers. And to invest in yourself appropriately, whether you are investing time or money or both, you need a well thought through business plan.  Your business plan can be developed either by you, or, if you prefer, using an online framework, or on a one-to-one basis in conjunction with a trained professional.

The importance of self-awareness

When developing your business plan, understanding what you have to offer a potential employer is crucial to knowing where best your skills can be deployed. Equally, knowing what motivates and fulfils you is essential to identifying the sectors and areas you should be considering.

Having a good grasp of who you are, what you have to offer and how you’re perceived is also a good starting point to work on the gaps such an analysis reveals, or to start developing skills that are more relevant to a new career.

There are a huge variety of diagnostic tests that will help you to identify your strengths and orientations.  Myers Briggs is perhaps the best known psychometric diagnostic, but there are many more available, either online or administered by a professional.

Asking colleagues or friends for an honest assessment of how they perceive you can be immensely helpful. For many, this exercise reveals some surprising and enlightening results.

Listing and grouping your skills will help you to identify areas of strength, as well as skills gaps.


Once you have a clear idea of who you are and what you have to offer, you can start to consider where you should be marketing your talents and skills to give you the best return.

Understanding your options

Once you have a realistic idea of exactly who you are and what makes you tick, you’ll be able to think clearly, not just about your career options, but about the work culture that will best suit you as an individual.

Do you prefer intensely hierarchical workplaces, or would you rather work somewhere where roles and structures are more fluid?  Do you like working in a large multinational, or are you more at home in a small company?

Establishing where you’re heading highlights the gaps in your CV, and gives you a clear idea of what training and experience you need to be exposed to for your next move.

Treating yourself as a brand

Everyone brings something unique to their working life, and knowing what will be of most interest to an employer, and communicating these qualities well, will help you to make a successful business of your career.

Brands assess the competition and the marketplace, establish niches  for themselves, and develop and communicate compelling messages. So should you!

Marketing yourself

Whether you’re actively job seeking or not, you should always be marketing yourself. A presence on LinkedIn is

a bare minimum, but networking, looking for opportunities to build your credibility and authority, and developing a portfolio of projects of which you’re proud are all things that

people who drive their own careers do as a matter of course.

If you are an active jobseeker, you should also be ensuring that your interview technique is up to scratch (a run through, with someone asking all those awkward questions, is always

a good idea), that you feel confident about assessment centres, that your CV will stand out for all the right reasons, and that your covering letters are well tailored summaries of your capability to do the job advertised.

You should also be active and influential in the ‘channels to market’

– recruiters, referrers and firms in your chosen sector that are looking to expand.

Since you’re treating your career as a business, you’ll want to negotiate the best deal for you, whether that’s in your current position or in a new role.

Good negotiators think about all the factors that can come into play to secure a positive outcome for both parties.  In the strategic research you did earlier, when you considered all the factors that motivated you at work, you will have clarified which elements of your remuneration package are most important to

you.  Is pay the only driver, or do holidays, flexible working, training and development opportunities, or culture, play a big part in what makes you tick?

Successful businesses negotiate deals that recognise what’s important to both parties, and that contribute to the sustainability of key relationships, so make sure you do too.

Reviewing your career

Taking time out from running a business to review what’s working and what’s not, examining the impact of external trends, and coming up with strategies to cope with both threats and opportunities is a habit of all successful business leaders.  It’s also a good habit to develop if you’re taking your career seriously.

Often life and daily routines take over to the extent that this important

review work is neglected or constantly deferred. But if your career really is to perform as you’d like it to, a review at least annually is essential.

Make sure you diarise time to review your performance and progress properly.  Often, involving a coach for this process is helpful, since a third party will help you to see the ‘big picture’ and develop a plan of action and a timeline to address the issues it reveals.


People who treat their career  as a business, developing a well thought out and strategic career plan, empower themselves in the management of their working life.  As a result, they have more fulfilling and better remunerated careers.

By actively managing the process they are less subject to other people’s decisions on their behalf, so they can develop themselves into the employees, entrepreneurs and colleagues that they want to be

And by investing in themselves, they have a portable proposition, that travels with them wherever they go, and that repays the initial investment many times over.

If you would like to know more, contact

Sarah is passionate about getting people (back) into the workplace, recognising their true potential and being valued correctly and fairly. Sarah connects local companies with local talent. Specialising in school leavers, returning parents and over 50s.