BY TERESA MULOMI
“If career growth knocked on your door today, what would it look like.” Mr. Perminus Wainaina speaking during the just concluded HR week at CIC Insurance
Corporate Staffing Services just concluded a 3-day training at CIC Insurance whose main goal was to equip professionals with the tools they needed to take charge of their careers.
The lead trainer, Mr. Perminus Wainaina, the CEO and Managing Partner at Corporate Staffing provided indispensable advice to the staff on how they could leverage their skill-set, strengths and networks to scale their careers to greater heights.
In today’s workplace, there is no defined career trajectory.
Long gone are the days when companies were responsible for an employee’s career growth.
Career advancement is no longer served on a platter by way of promotions, pay rise and training simply because one is an existing employee.
To move from an existing employee to a thriving employee, the formula is for you to personally take total ownership and control of your future.
This subject matter was the basis for the training at CIC which was designed to help employees to move from the passenger seat to the driver’s seat when it came to propelling their own careers.
Gain specialized technical skill training not a master’s degree.
“99% of employees do not care about your master’s degree, they only care about your ability to do the job and do it well. A master’s degree is not proof of your ability to get the job done. Your technical know-how and experience are the only things that demonstrate your ability to get a job done not a piece of ‘advanced’ paper.” Mr. Wainaina
Contrary to popular opinion, a master’s degree will not speed up your climb in the career ladder. Mr. Wainaina cautioned professionals from rushing to get advanced degrees because they were no longer highly valued by employees due to the current job market saturation.
Affirming the importance of education, he urged professionals to first get an undergraduate degree and upgrade their skills with specialized professional training that equipped them with the technical competencies to get the job done.
Acquire soft skills
“As you climb up the career ladder and get more leadership and supervisory roles, soft skills will play a bigger role in your career growth than the technical skills” Mr. Perminus Wainaina
During the training Mr. Perminus also urged professionals to aim at gaining the right mix of technical and soft skills. Employers want employees with relevant soft skills because they are transferable, give one an edge and help employees relate well and execute duties effectively.
“Some of the biggest soft skills gaps we have identified from the job candidates we interview are public speaking and presentation skills, written communication skills and emotional intelligence.” Maureen Mwangoma, HR Manager at CIC
Mr. Wainaina urged professionals to gain interpersonal skill sets such as time management, critical thinking, communication, emotional intelligence, conflict management which would set them apart as leaders.
Relationships and networks are the key to unlocking success.
“Strive to build two networks -professional and personal. These two networks, like oil and water, should never mix. Cultivate a professional network that will help you push conversations and create relationships that support your career growth.” Mr. Perminus Wainaina
Your network is definitely your net worth. Big or small, relationships are key to unlocking career success. Mr. Wainaina urged professionals not to burn bridges with previous employers even if they get better offers. He urged them to always strive to keep the conversation alive with all their professional networks. He challenged professionals to form new connections and keep in touch with their networks once a week. Every new conversation might help advance your work or set it back, turn into a source of revenues, support, or disappointment. Choose your networks wisely.
Your reputation is you brand
“How you carry yourself and get stuff done sums up your brand. If you are a boss who has a tendency of borrowing money from juniors, you are strongly establishing your brand as a broke pauper with poor money management skills.” Mr. Perminus Wainaina
Forget everything you have heard about branding. It’s not a fancy profile with fancy qualifications and fancy achievement. Regardless of your qualifications or experience, how you conduct yourself and your reputation on how you do stuff is your branding. This was the resounding message Mr. Wainaina had for professionals during the session. If you have a reputation for being sloppy, sloppy is your brand. If you have a reputation for borrowing, borrower is your brand. Same goes for high achievers, if you are a high achiever, achievements are your brand.
Be tactful and follow protocol when dealing with difficult supervisors.
During the Q&A sessions that followed, a lot of professionals at CIC sought advice on how to deal with difficult unsupportive supervisors. Mr. Wainaina urged professionals to be tactful, firm and follow appropriate protocol when handling difficult supervisors.
Exercise sound judgment when negotiating offers and counter-offers
Mr. Wainaina urged professional to be wise, tactful and empathetic when considering offers and counter offers from new employers and their current employers.
“If your employers offer you a counter-offer after landing a new job, ask yourself why you made the decision in the first place. Was it because you wanted to blackmail the company, move up the corporate ladder or escape certain circumstances in your workplaces. Only then can you make a sound decision.” Mr. Wainaina
To move up, you can’t afford to be stagnant and passive. Career growth demands professionals to pro-actively seek opportunities that calibrate their strengths, goals that help them create a career road map and skills to continuously improve their technical know-how and people handling abilities.
You too can use these tips to build the career you want, right now.
The Human Resource Week was a five-day initiative by the HR department at CIC Insurance to celebrate the staff at CIC and empower them with the tools they need to take charge of their careers.