Your career competitive edge – why, what and how to develop it

athletes running in a relay race, competitive edge

We’re in changing times, but even if the times weren’t so dramatic you still need to make sure you are performing and working at your best.

Why is a ‘competitive edge’ important?

Having your own career competitive edge often gets lost as we get absorbed in delivering client work and wooing potential clients. It’s easy to slowly and gradually fall behind, realising you haven’t focused on you until it’s too late and you’ve missed out on career opportunities you really want.

At the moment, not focusing on your own ‘competitive edge’ means you may potentially suffer more dramatic consequences as businesses make tough choices. Roles are likely to be at a premium in the coming months and competition for them greater; the danger of ignoring your own development is not one to be taken lightly.

What your competitive edge gives you

I work with many clients to help them overcome specific challenges and/or work on key development areas which help them move their career forward and enable them to elevate theirs and their team’s performance. In short, I help them find, learn and hone their competitive edge.

Therefore, I’ve distilled the key (often neglected) skills I believe professionals need to work on to:

  • maximise their potential
  • improve personal and team performance
  • achieve the career success they want.

For each skill, I’ve briefly explained why it matters and given one top tip. You can also sign up here immediately for a free short email series and eBooklet to help you understand and improve these skills.

The nine skills to give you a competitive edge

Personal Impact

People don’t make decisions based purely on fact, so how you engage with them affects whether they form positive relationships with you or not.

Top tip: Consider carefully how you want to come across (thinking of it as three words often helps). This needs to be genuine and achievable for you. To read more about defining your personal brand, click here.

Managing Senior Relationships

Whether you like it or not, senior people make decisions about your career. Investing in these relationships is likely to have a profound effect on your career path overall and what you’re involved in on a day-to-day basis.

Top tip: Write down who you need to know internally at a senior level – people who can make your day to day work easier and those who impact your career progression.

Managing ‘Office Politics’ Positively

 ‘Office Politics’ is largely unavoidable where you have different people with varying beliefs, assumptions and values. Those who know how to navigate it positively are more likely to progress. You can read more in my guide to ‘Office Politics’ here.

Top tip: Ask a (very trusted) colleague what they think your motivations are at work e.g. why you come to work, how you regard and treat your colleagues, how ambitious you are. Do their answers match how you think you come across?

Building Relationships with Clients and Prospects

Particularly in a service business, how you deal with clients and prospective clients can set you apart from your competitors.   Top tip: What do you think your clients value about working with you beyond your ability to deliver the service they require to the standard they require? How do you make them feel? Think about their body language and how they reacted to you last time you engaged with them.

Moving on from Negative Feedback

Being able to hear negative feedback, discern how you need to react to it and move forward from it is key to progress in your career. Top tip: Reflect on any negative feedback you have received that still impacts how you interact at work. Jot down what it was and the impact it’s still having.

Meeting Effectiveness

You probably spend a lot of time in meetings where you need to be able to contribute information effectively and influence others. Without the ability to manage and participate in them well, your impact is dramatically reduced which affects your career.

Top tip: Consider what you find challenging about running and participating in meetings. Note these down, along with any behaviours you notice yourself repeating that might be less than positive. Consider what you might replace those behaviours with.

Managing a Team Effectively

With increased seniority, it’s likely you will need to manage people. This requires some skill development to make sure your team is an asset, not a burden, and contributes well to the business.

Top tip: You are a role model for your team; are you present enough? And when you are present, what are you actually role modelling for them? Note down your thoughts.

Networking to Get Results

Having a solid network is essential if you have business development responsibilities or will do in the future, and from a personal career perspective too. Too few think about their network before they really need it. Read my guide to networking at events here.

Top tip: Consider whether you have networking objectives and a strategy and whether it’s effective.

Be Prepared to Get Your Next Role

Why this matters: Not being prepared is likely to put you off going for great opportunities due to the preparation work involved and presents the danger that you will get stuck in a role for longer than is sensible for your situation. Click here to read my guide to getting a new role.

Top tip: Do your CV and LinkedIn profile accurately reflect who you are, your experience and your career aspirations? Make any necessary changes/updates to your CV and LinkedIn profile now.

So what do you most need to work on?

In the webinar I led for WeAreTheCity, you can listen to the recording here, this was the verdict in terms of the Nine Skills and what individuals felt they most needed to focus on:

competitive edge

Which one or few is it for you? Take the time to address your most pressing skill now – it will pay dividends for you and your career.

A reminder you can sign up here for the free short email series and eBooklet that gives more advice and tips on the above skills.

If you’d like to book a complimentary, no obligation 30 minute Career Booster conversation with me to discuss your situation, click here.

Joanna GaudoinAbout the author

Joanna Gaudoin, Inside Out Image specialises in helping ambitious professionals and their organisations improve performance and achieve their goals.

She does this by helping them master and strategically use the business skills of Personal Impact and Relationship Management. These skills are required for professional success.

Before establishing Inside Out Image, Joanna worked in marketing and consultancy in large corporates. She understands the business world and its challenges. She now helps organisations and individuals understand how to succeed in it.

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