Even though you like your company, you may find your career at a standstill. For example, you may have been passed over for promotions even though you thought you made a great candidate. You’re reliable, you do your job well, so why isn’t anyone noticing you? Let’s bring in a professional, the industrial-organizational (I/O) psychologist, to give you some ideas.
Think Like an I/O Psychologist
An I/O psychologist isn’t going to sit you down on a couch and discuss how your parents loved your sister more than they loved you. Instead of focusing on individual well-being, an I/O psychologist studies entire organizations to see how they could be improved with the right talent, professional development and human resource processes. An I/O psychologist usually earns either a traditional or online I/O psychology certificate from an accredited university (click here to see one program) and then works either on staff at a company or independently as a consultant.
If you want to get yourself into the talent pipeline, then you should think like an I/O psychologist. Instead of retooling your resume again and trying to guess what the company wants from you, ask yourself what your company needs from future leaders and whether you have the qualities to meet some of those needs. Use some of these questions to jumpstart your thought process:
- What are your company’s strengths and weaknesses? You don’t have to be in the C-suite to have a good grasp of your company’s culture and workings. Make an exhaustive list of what’s going well with your company as well as opportunities for improvement.
- What mission-critical knowledge, skills and abilities does your company need for the future? When you examine your list of opportunities for improvement, jot down the qualities and competencies that your company might lack to get the job done.
- What are your favorite things to do at work? You might enjoy managing people, working on promotional campaigns, developing new processes or engineering new products. Write down which types of work motivate you the most.
- Where do the company’s needs and your strengths intersect? If you’re worried that your company’s products are losing market share, and you love product development, then you might breathe new life into your career by looking for ways to improve current products and develop new ones.
Steve Jobs once said, “People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” Maybe you haven’t shown your company why they should want you. Alternatively, maybe they haven’t created the right job for you yet because they haven’t figured out what they really need for the future.
Try some of these psychologist-recommended exercises to map out the next stages of your career:
- Write your ideal job description. Grab a copy of your current job description, and use the format to write a description for your dream job. Don’t worry about the job title; focus on the competencies and duties instead.
- Identify your skills gaps. If you’re missing essential skills that could keep you from getting your ideal job, consider taking some courses or attending some seminars to build up your skills.
- Ask yourself why your company hasn’t promoted you yet. In this step, be brutally honest about whether it’s your company or whether it’s you. If you see repeated issues in your professional development plans or in your performance reviews, you should figure out how to overcome those obstacles.
- Seek out new perspectives. Look for opportunities that may not be part of your current role. If you need to improve your management skills, then volunteer to lead a project. To learn more about product development, join a committee.
Closing the Sale
Even when you know what you want to do and mold yourself into the ideal candidate, you still need to sell yourself to the people who can promote you. Start keeping a work diary, preferable on a password-protected document, detailing what you’ve worked on and, even better, what you’ve accomplished. Before your next performance review or interview, revamp your resume to quantify your accomplishments. Focus the conversation on the company’s needs, which you gained from your I/O psychologist insights, and how your talents and achievements will fit into the company’s future. Hopefully, some of these exercises have provided ideas for getting your career unstuck.