Applying for a job can often be a case of matching your abilities against a prescribed job specification. But to excel in any role means moving beyond that and shaping a job in your own image.
Job specification documents often hold totemic status. Some use them as a crutch to ‘prove’ themselves; others use them to avoid doing more than they must do. A job specification should instead be used as a starting point. The launching pad for developing the role and a career in your own image.
The more that a role can be personalised, the better. The role will be more satisfying and, come annual reviews, it will be easier to demonstrate the added value you bring. That can mean promotions and additional money. Working to a job specification rule can be dull and repetitive.
What would be the steps towards following a more personalised approach?
1) Self-assessment – consider what you do well and other areas that might need to be addressed. Being able to do the job is not enough. Pushing the boundaries need self-reflection. Set goals so that you can continuously challenge yourself.
2) Role-assessment – consider what the job specification does and not cover once you have been in the role for at least a few months. Actively look for gaps and consider what is possible, impossible and what could be described as aspirational. In essence, you are thinking about where the gaps are that you can push and make a difference at.
3) Training and development – once the self-assessment has been undertaken, think about what support might be needed. This could be training, mentoring, a period of study or other support. Some organisations will provide it but others may need to finance it themselves. Whatever the situation is, there should always a business case made.
4) Be creative – especially in a commercial setting, or one where you are focused on service delivery, any successful and growth-focused organisation want to be challenged. There is nothing that tops not just good ideas but a plan for delivery as well. The two should go hand-in-hand.
5) Find an internal friend – especially in the early days, it is always useful to know how to navigate potential internal discussions and potentially even battles. The more you can discuss this with others, the better. It should be hoped that one such person could be a line manager but some consider themselves first and others later, however disappointing that attitude is.
6) Have a plan of action – bring all this together in one place and be prepared to update it regularly as you develop, receive feedback and learn from the experience of others. Networking always helps as you bring the thoughts and views of others into your plan updates. Keeping good records of training, discussions and achievements should not be underestimated either. It is too easy forget all the hard work and good ideas that you develop.
Personalisation should be about pushing the boundaries rather than waiting for them to be imposed upon you. It is about helping an employer but helping yourself as well. A more personalised role is a more enjoyable role and is ultimately empowering.