Positioning Yourself

She sat in my office in a tirade about a co-worker, an almost non-stop verbal ranting, finally taking a deep breath and finishing with a definitive and defining summary statement


As if this was an activity singularly vile and essentially evil in nature.

I could actually feel the tiny droplets of spittle hitting my face as these words spurted out of her mouth.

It is not uncommon in my experience for the concept of positioning yourself to be considered as something that shouldn’t be admitted to in polite company.
However, I argue that if you are serious about your career then positioning yourself is de rigueur. What it essentially involves is considering your career, both in the shorter term and then in the future, in a strategic manner. Something which is what is expected of leaders anyway!

If this is a new approach for you, then a good place to start is to ask yourself the following:

  • What is happening in my industry? (Consider this question in the 5+ year context unless you are considering moving positions in the near future?)
  • o Are there emerging areas of growth or specific knowledge that are required?
    o Is there growth in particular areas, whilst others are plateauing or shrinking?
    o Is your industry influenced by government policy? What might this mean for you and your opportunities?

In your particular work-place what is happening in the short to medium term?

  • Is it likely that certain areas are growing and there could be opportunities for you to extend yourself?
  • Is there an evolving need for specialists or generalist?
  • Will people be needed in the future that can work across sections?
  • Is there growth in your company, for example, in the Asia-Pacific area?

What is happening for you in your life and therefore what opportunities, challenges, possibilities or limitations your personal contexts presents you with?

  • It may be that you can easily move interstate or overseas and by doing so position yourself more favourably for promotion.
  • Your partner may have just completed study and now it is your turn.
  • Within a year your teenage children will all be through their secondary schooling and therefore not requiring such intensive support.

After you have asked yourself these questions, it is time to undertaken a personal audit

This involves considering what skills, knowledge and experience you currently have, what is needed in the future inside your company, and then in the broader industry. Depending if you are a small picture – to big picture person, or vice versa, will impact on whether you prefer to start with yourself and then go larger, or go through this process in reverse.

If you do not know the answers to the questions about your industry and/or your company, it is time to find out. You can do this by:

  • reading
  • talking to people
  • attending seminar or conferences
  • joining associations, etc.

In relation to knowledge – Consider where your current gaps are and whether further study, specific training or accreditation are needed
In relation to experience– It is important to differentiate clearly between experience and skills – not infrequently they are considered the same thing, but they are not. Think of experience as being things you can write on your CV as distinct and demonstrable outcomes e.g. positions you have held, things you have been accountable for.
In relation to skills you possess – Skills are less concrete concepts and somewhat more difficult to define. However, think about what you have demonstrated you can do, e.g. public speaking, negotiating an enterprise agreement, successfully writing tenders.

CV Essentials – what are the key foundation items you need on your CV?

In this blog I will discuss what are CV essentials– the concept behind this terms is that:

  • At different levels there is an expectation, effectively a “given”, that will be included on a CV
  • Essentially a panel, executive search firm or recruiter will expect to simply “tick off” before they look for meatier items.

That the lack of cause anyone considering your CV to either literally or figuratively “raise an eyebrow” and question how come it is not there – the absence of this basic will cause questions to be raised in the mind of the reader.

A few matters to consider

  • As with many other matters there are industry or context specific matters that need to be considered, a fundamental in one industry, may not be valued and certainly not considered essential in another.
  • The fundamentals are level specific. What is a basic requirement to have ticked the necessary boxes at a senior or executive level, will not be needed or may be a nice-to-have for someone at a mid-level or deputy executive level.
  • “Working towards”, this is a term frequently used in primary school reports. Has a student mastered writing legibly? The teacher comment of working towards is meant to be gentle on the young soul and not saying – not yet, fail, or no – but in progress. Classic examples of when working towards can work on a CV is gaining a qualification like an MBA – having started and not completed will get at least a pencil tick from a recruiter in the qualifications box.
  • Middle Management Mid-level executive Executive
  • Supervision of staff – can be one team Supervision of more than one section, possibly across sites, regions
  • Some budgetary responsibility Profit and loss statement responsibility
  • Tertiary level qualifications
  • Industry specific accreditation Masters level qualification Masters level – possibly more than one, possibly doctorate level
  • Answering to a board

The importance of considering these essential CV items is particularly important when you are considering a position, or whether to take another role at the same level.

If for example you have not had supervision of staff, or only for a short time, or only temporary staff, when you are at middle manager level, and you are considering another role at that level I strongly advise you look to tick this box.
In terms of the eyebrow raise by a recruiter – if you have held a couple of roles at middle manager level and not supervised staff it may cause a question to form in the recruiter’s mind “why not?”. Once the question is posed, the vacuum left by a lack of an answer leaves room for a whole variety of possible answers, for example, they aren’t good with people.

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