7 Tips for Leveraging Opportunities in Your Career
Taking advantage of opportunities that come your way is key to moving your career forward. Here are 7 tips from Career Coach Julie Allen on finding and securing beneficial opportunities.
This article on leveraging opportunities is part of the Coaching Collective series, featuring tips and expertise from Flatiron School Career Coaches. Every Flatiron School graduate is eligible to receive up to 180 days of 1:1 career coaching with one of our professional coaches. This series is a glimpse of the expertise you can access during career coaching at Flatiron School.
After coaching hundreds of young professionals in their careers, I’ve noticed patterns and traits in those who land jobs quickly and are successful career changers, and those who struggle to move ahead.
But the one trait that stands out the most is one’s ability to see the right opportunities and take advantage of them.
Here are 7 tips for helping you to better prepare for – and take advantage of – your next opportunity when it comes along.
1. Get Clear On Your Goals
Be clear on what you want to achieve and stay committed to your dreams and goals. That way, you will be in a position to recognize the right opportunities that come your way.
The clearer you are about what your goal is, the better you will be at identifying the best opportunities to get you there.
For example, many of the grads I work with will apply to any related job for hundreds of different types of companies. After months of doing this, burning out, and still, no offers they get discouraged.
Once grads get more clarity around the types of companies they want to work for and narrow down the companies to a small target list they then begin to recognize the right opportunities. They discover ways to meet people inside these companies so that they can have informational interviews and get to know the companies better.
2. Identify The Right Opportunities
Taking advantage of the right opportunities will move you closer to your goal, so it’s important to correctly identify them.
To give you an idea, I recently had a graduate that wanted to break into the crypto blockchain industry. But, he was still applying for anything related to his discipline, such as random jobs he found on Angel List or Indeed. He wasn’t having any luck though, so we reframed and brought him back to focusing on his original goal of being a software developer in the blockchain industry.
He started networking and going to blockchain-related events and soon discovered an apprenticeship program that paid per project. It didn’t pay a lot, but after doing this for a couple of months, he was offered a full-time software engineer position with the company.
Be cautious of opportunities that emerge unrelated to your ultimate goal. Opportunities will come your way daily, but if they are not helping you move closer to your goals, they will distract you from what you want to achieve.
3. Put In The Effort
Once you identify the right opportunity, move full force towards it and take advantage of them before they expire. Your level of effort in pursuing it should equal the size of your goal.
Do whatever you can to leverage the opportunities that come your way.
Take advantage of people and resources that can help support you, such as career coaches or access to content related to best practices. Learning and improving are one of the best opportunities that most of us have and one of the best places to start.
The better you perform when given these chances, the more opportunities will become available to you.
4. Take Action and Be Fearless
Opportunities usually have a specific time that they are available before they expire. If you are waiting for everything to line up and be perfect, the opportunity will eventually close or just become more difficult to access later.
Don’t let fears or doubts hold you back – take advantage of an opportunity the moment you can and move forward without fear. Even if you don’t succeed, you’ve learned something valuable in the process.
If we really want something we have to do it despite our fears or insecurities. Dale Carnegie once said, “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit at home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”
In order to succeed in your dreams your desire for success is greater than your fear of failure!
5. Focus On What You Can Control
Focus on the opportunities that you have access to – the things you can control, what you can learn now, the people you can meet and talk to. The things that are inside your current circle of influence.
Don’t worry about the bigger opportunities you want but can’t have yet. Start small and expand from there.
For example, my daughter wants to be an actress and she thinks she should just go out and start auditioning for movies but she hasn’t yet practiced the craft of speaking and performing. First, she needs to take advantage of the smaller opportunities to learn and practice by reading and memorizing monologues and taking a local acting class.
6. Prepare Yourself For Luck
During the height of the Romain Empire, Seneca said, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” Good things that happen are not just random acts of luck but a direct correlation to your level of effort, intentionality, and the choices you make with what is presented to you.
If you are prepared for future opportunities then you have positioned yourself to take advantage of the opportunities that come your way.
A French chemist Louis Pasteur put it this way. “Chance favors the prepared mind”.
For instance, If you want to be a Cybersecurity professional, you first have to get the training you need to be prepared to take advantage of the apprenticeship that you may learn about through your network.
Luck is not something random given to you with no effort but rather something you are prepared to grab once the opportunity emerges. It starts with building on your strengths in a discipline you are progressing in and paired with your faith and belief that opportunities will follow.
Many little opportunities will crop up and will lead you to greater opportunities. But you first must take advantage of the smaller opportunities before the bigger opportunities present themselves.
7. Stay Optimistic
Lastly, opportunities are only seen when looking at life from a positive viewpoint. Opportunities are invisible to the negative and judgmental mindset.
When you develop a healthy and happy mindset you will even begin to see failures as opportunities because you’ll start to recognize the benefits they provide to grow and learn from these experiences.
About Julie Allen
Julie Allen is a career coach with Flatiron School. She also has a private career coach business called The StoryMakers. Julie comes from 20 years as a manager in the tech industry helping corporate America achieve its goals. She is located in the Phoenix area, where she inspires young professionals to go after their dream jobs. Julie holds a BA in English and Psychology from Washington State University and an MBA from Golden Gate University.
Posted by Julie Allen / February 3, 2023
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