THE BLOG
06/20/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Your Career Is A Game - 4 Key Moves To Play And Win!

Like to play Scrabble? Monopoly? Trivial Pursuit? Soccer? Basketball? Tennis? Grand Theft Auto? Super Mario 2? Find games exciting, exhilarating and a great way to engage your competitive spirit? If yes, this blog is for you.

Stephen A. Miles and Nate Bennett's powerful new book, Your Career Game, is a reminder that your profession is a "multifaceted game." They believe that those who recognize this have a greater chance to succeed. They should know -- Stephen is the Vice Chairman at Heidrick and Struggles, one of the most renowned search firms in the world, dealing specifically with CEO ascension, and Nate is a professor of Management at Georgia Tech's College of Management as well as an active consultant.

As a coach myself (recently named one of the top executive consultants in the country), I agree with their C-Suite endorsers (the who's who of corporate America) that this book is "a must-read, strategic guide for all who seek to advance their careers and navigate today's job market".

Let's play! (Move #3 is my personal favorite)

MOVE# 1: Understand and Develop Your Career Competitive Advantage

The first key in making an effective business strategy is to understand your competitive advantage. It isn't enough to learn the "color of your parachute," as one perennial best seller recommends. Such insight may help you know where you want to look, but it won't help you know how to win.

Understanding those attributes you possess which are rare in the labor market, valuable to employers, attractive to consumers, and hard for other job candidates or entrepreneurs to copy, allows you to understand how to develop an approach to win at your career game.

MOVE# 2: Make Early Moves that Matter

Picture your career as the flight of a rocket -- a difference of a few degrees in the angle of the launch can have a dramatic effect on where the rocket lands. Great moves can pay a dividend from the moment they are made until you exit the game. The earlier you make the moves, the longer you enjoy the reward.

What constitutes a great early move?

➢ Find a job at a learning company -- one that is willing to invest in developing its people.
➢ Take the job no one else wants and do more with it than anyone could have imagined -- make a mark by fixing something or turning something around.
➢ Be bold. Anything that makes you unforgettable is a winning move.

MOVE# 3: Strengthen Your Weak Ties

Ties between people who you work and play together will tend to be strong. Strong ties provide benefits - particularly when it comes to support. However, strong ties contain lots of redundant information - you know the same things about the same people at the same companies as those others which whom you share strong ties.

On the other hand, strengthening weak ties connects people with unique networks and disparate knowledge. In a job search situation, people to whom you are strongly tied will rarely be able to introduce you to an opportunity or an individual that you couldn't have met on your own.

The winning move is in the creation and management of weak ties -- people who are connected to you but spend most of their time living in a different network.

MOVE #4: Manage Your Mentoring

Most people quickly recognize the value of mentors -- they can be an important resource. But very few people understand the success strategy for choosing that person.

Your mentor needs to be four levels higher than you on the organizational chart. If they are closer, the situation can become one where you may become a competitive threat to your mentor. The biggest mistake career game players make here is choosing their mentor from someone too close to their current level in the company.

Also, early in your career, you need to find a "Yoda" -- a wise character able to teach you what you need to know about your career goals. Such a mentor can help you understand where the land mines are, the best operating procedures, and how to thrive.

Later in a career what is most important in a mentor is someone in a position to be an invisible hand providing some lift to your career trajectory. Example: Within an organization, this person needs to be in the room when personnel decisions get made so as to be there to make sure your name is mentioned.

Finally, in your late career what matters most is someone with enough understanding of your position and enough force of personality to ensure you are honest about your decisions -- some one who isn't afraid to tell what you need to hear.

Your Career Game includes some of the most in-depth conversations I've read with Ursula Burns (Xerox), Stephen Elop (Microsoft), Marius Kloppers (BHP Billiton), Ken Frazier (Merck), Charlene Begley (General Electric), Brian Humphries (Hewlett-Packard), William Perez (Campbell Soup), Dan Palumbo (formerly Coca-Cola), Carol Tome (Home Depot) and many more.

If you're serious about winning your career game, then learn from the best. We are the only mammals able to learn non-experientially. This book will help you use that to your highest advantage!

To reach the authors go to: www.yourcareergame.com

Subscribe to the Lifestyle email.
We’re basically your best friend… with better taste.