Climbing the career ladder can be an exhilarating but sometimes overwhelming ride. For the majority of professionals, the conclusion of academic study leads to starting out professional working life in an entry level position in their chosen field.

For many, the ambition to build a career results in a focus on working hard, developing and improving skills and remaining open-eyed to possible opportunities to advance to the next level. For others, a new career opportunity could involve moving into a new industry, or even breaking out on their own to set up a business.

So what is the best way to identify a great career opportunity that is right for you? These five tips will put you on the track to sniffing out the next step in your professional life:

1. Patience and persistence

Careers take time to grow and develop – that’s why it’s called a career journey. Be patient along the way and you’ll be in the best place to identify opportunities when they arise. Be persistent in your efforts, and prepare yourself mentally for some knockbacks and unsuccessful attempts.

2. Look, listen and talk

Keep your eyes, and ears, wide open – that great new job isn’t going to just fall into your lap. If you are keen to progress in your current company, be alert and connected to any potential internal job openings before they are advertised publically. Speak to the relevant managers, including your direct boss, about your interest in advancing your career with the company to ensure the right people know about your ambitions. Then focus on demonstrating your capability and skills. This might involve taking on extra responsibilities or initiating projects where you have identified a business need – showcasing both your ability to be proactive and your project management and leadership skills.

If you are interested in job opportunities further afield, make sure you stay current with your industry network. Keep on top of the latest news and trends, and attend relevant industry events. You can also spread the word with family and friends and ask them to keep you posted on job opportunities within their companies or, better still, to introduce you to the decision-makers in their business.

3. Think outside the square

Social networking is no longer a pastime of Gen Y. LinkedIn is a popular online channel for many professionals and used regularly to identify employment trends and opportunities, and networking with well-informed individuals. If you’re not already an avid user, it could be a new channel worth checking out.

If you’re looking for a complete career change, talk to employment specialists about industries where there is currently a shortage of skilled professionals or which industries are growing. Shortfalls, growth, and issues all present great potential for opportunity.

4. What’s important to you?

Identifying a career opportunity is only part of the process. Take time to consider what is important to you. What skills do you want to improve on? Are you searching for career trajectory? Do you want to be in a leadership position and do you have what it takes to lead a team? Is your focus on increasing your salary? Are you ready to take on extra responsibilities and with that, extra pressure? And always try to think one step ahead; what are the options for the next career opportunity, once you have succeeded with this one?

5. Be ready to act

With all of this preparation done, you need to be ready to act when that new career opportunity presents itself. Ensure you have an up-to-date resume and you can confidently articulate what you are looking for in your next career move. It’s also helpful if you can be flexible with meetings, and have the ability to attend interviews or coffee catch ups at reasonably short notice.

Staying calm and patient, and being alert and prepared, will leave you in the best possible position to grab that career opportunity when it comes along.


When looking to advance your career or take a leap to a new industry, remember to:
  • Keep your eyes open for opportunities in your current company
  • Take a step back to reassess your priorities 
  • Take the time to prepare your resume 
  • Be proactive, patient and persistent 
This will ensure you are ready to act when the right opportunity presents itself.
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