The blurry line between a professional career and life

02 April 2020 4 min. read

With the world moving so fast these days, how do you create a career plan that realistically fits into your life plan? How do you find passion for what you do, recognise your transferrable skills, and take your career to the next level? Careers and recruitment executive director at Synergy Group, Nick Pieper, looks at how career planning should be embedded into daily life for both employees and employers. 

For some of us, career planning is a process we do once or twice a year (at best). We fill in a template and maybe revisit it with our manager at a performance development review. “It’s much more than that,” says Nick. “Career planning should be an ongoing conversation about enabling people to achieve their best, regardless of what they’re doing.” 

Creating a plan is unique to every individual, so it’s up to each of us to take personal responsibility for understanding where we want to go and mapping a path to get there. “Career planning isn’t always about progressing to the next level. It’s taking time out to manage career as part of managing your life, and that might involve a transition or sideways move to gain different skills.”

A good understanding of your own motivations – and a process for communicating these with your employer – ultimately leads to higher levels of satisfaction and productivity, happier people and higher engagement.

The blurry line between career and life

Input matters

Organisations have a role to play in understanding each employee’s intrinsic motivations. “No one can achieve the outcomes they want in life without a team of support. Career and life are intertwined. Frank and honest conversations with your place of work should help you achieve your career and life goals – even if those goals potentially take you to another organisation.”

At Synergy Group, this is done really well, by facilitating mentoring and coaching, exploring non-traditional operational options, as well as encouraging open and transparent conversations. 

“For each person, we identify on-the-job learning, informal learning, leadership sessions, memberships of professional associations, plus ongoing discussions with performance development managers,” explains Nick. “But we also identify other thought leaders in the organisation who may have an interest in a person’s growth; whether it’s related to their job title or not.” 

Transferrable skills for a career change

Nick knows first-hand how careers change over a lifetime, having originally starting his career as a chef. “It’s about leveraging your skills into one path or another,” says Nick. “When my personal life started to change with family responsibilities, it was time to transfer my skills.”

Having worked with many different organisations and developed an ability to network with and influence various people, Nick found a new niche in recruitment and workforce planning – a field he has been thriving in for many years. 

“It’s important for people to think laterally about their skills and see where they are transferrable. It doesn’t always matter what you’re doing technically – it’s sometimes more about soft skills.”

For instance, employers like Synergy Group frequently look for applicants with exceptional skills in communication, those with a natural growth mindset and who can look at problems through a different lens. “Don’t undervalue these skills,” says Nick.

It’s up to you

Reflecting on your career path (and life goals) takes time and effort. Until we each understand who we are and what drives us, it is hard to involve others in the process. “We all need to be accountable to ourselves for our own careers,” says Nick. “We have to manage our careers as part of managing our lives.”