The Secret to Having a (Truly) Successful Career

by Chris Dardis

Every day at Versique, I have conversations with people who are looking for help to make meaningful career changes. The specific situations vary, as some candidates are confidentially looking to make a move, others may be unemployed, yet others may simply be looking for advice about interviewing, networking, or resume writing.  One of my favorite questions to ask someone during a conversation like this is, “What are your career keys?”

More often than not, I’ve found that people have not given enough thought to this important question. Think about your “career keys” as non-negotiable elements that need to be a part of your work life. What are the most important aspects that you’re looking for within the “whole package” when considering your next career move, regardless of industry?

If you can’t name your top three keys immediately, I encourage you to take some time and truly think about them. This should be a much easier question than the dreaded, “What do I want to be when I grow up?”  Most of us can’t even answer that question today, or the answer to that question has changed from year to year. Your career keys should remain more consistent. I’ll give you an example. In my career, I’ve been a computer programmer, an agency recruiter, a director of talent acquisition, and now a leader within a boutique search and consulting agency. When considering each of these roles, my 3 keys have remained the same.

My Career Keys

  1. I want to work for inspiring leadership
  2. I want to work in a relationship management driven role
  3. I want to work for a company that can positively affect people’s lives

None of my career keys call out specific tasks or duties like sales, customer service, or human resources. They speak to the culture and overall environment of the companies I’d like to be a part of, regardless of the role I’m in.

I’ve heard candidates reference other career keys such as continued education, career growth, fun team environment, compensation, commute, feeling respected, and flexibility. These factors are what will truly determine how engaged you are in your role. Once you figure out your career keys, you’ll find it much easier to determine which opportunities are the best fit for you.

What are your career keys?

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