New entrants to property often make the wrong moves. Lydia Stockdale charts a better way forward with Property Week’s guide to achieving your career goals, broken down into 12 manageable, month-sized steps
January: Make a career map
First of all, decide what is realistically attainable over the course of a year.
If you first made a certain career-related new year’s resolution in 2005, and it is still hanging around, it is likely that you do not have the motivation to carry it through.
This is the assessment of Ros Toynbee, director of careers adviser The Career Coach.
‘Ask yourself how you can adapt your resolutions to make them more achievable,’ she suggests.
‘Next, start to carve out the stepping stones to get to where you want to go,’ says Alyson Pellowe, founder of People Vision, a human resources consultant.
Property services Atisreal encourages its employees to carry out what is referred to as ‘career mapping’, a personalised approach to career development.
‘We sit down with individuals and they say, “I want to do X, Y and Z.” Then we identify their development needs and the time frame they want to do it within,’ says Mel White, resourcing manager at Atisreal.
February: valentine’s delight
This Valentine’s Day, focus on your good points. ‘Ask yourself, “What makes me great?”’ says Pellowe. ‘Too many people get pigeonholed into something that doesn’t suit them. Don’t spend years hating what you do. Take time to think about yourself now.’
Decide to pursue the parts of your work that draw on your strengths, even if it means more training. However, Angela Baron, an adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personal Development, says: ‘Be realistic about how long it’s going to take you to have got the skills to go where you want to go’.
March: look around
To enter your salary details, log on to www.macdonaldandcompany.com, then continue your research by keeping your eye on jobs sections and websites. Ask yourself which jobs are going, how much are they paying and how much you are worth.
In springtime there is traditionally a boom in recruitment advertisements, so this is a good time to gather information.
April: new year, new money
If you are looking to sell a business asset any time soon, or if you are thinking of partnering a family member on a new venture, ignorance of the proposed changes to the tax regime that may be introduced from 6 April could prove costly. This is also a good time to start making plans for the years to come. ‘Some people are going to get a bit of shock when they come to look at their pension provision,’ warns Baron.
Although pensions will only be a pressing issue for those planning to take at least partial retirement in the near future, it is never too early to start thinking 30 years ahead.
‘Start a pension as early as possible,’ warns Baron. ‘The later you leave it, the harder it is to build up enough to support you in your retirement.’
May: Update your CV
‘Now is the time to come out of hibernation and dust off your CV,’ says Peter Moore, managing director of Macdonald & Company. ‘You never know when an opportunity will knock.’
June: feedback time
‘Halfway through the year leaves enough time to turn things around,’ says Toynbee. ‘The sooner you approach a subject, the sooner you can do something about it.’
Martin Vickerman, a development director at Terrace Hill, says that he looks positively on anyone who takes control of their own career.
‘Most people meander along, so if a member of staff asked for a meeting, I would arrange it straight away,’ he says.
One word of warning though: do not be disheartened by constructive criticism, especially if you asked for it.
‘Listen to feedback and act on it,’ says Pellowe. ‘Don’t just give it lip service.’
July: busy busy
Do not let the sunshine slow you down, especially if you are about to sit the APC in the autumn. Heady summer days may be upon you, but September is only weeks away. To avoid a last-minute panic followed by some serious cramming, start preparing in advance.
‘The majority of trainees sit their APC in the autumn, and they need to start working in the summer,’ says Lorna White, human resources director at Savills.
August: jobs ahoy?
Just because it is summer, it does not mean that positions are not becoming available.
‘Do not automatically assume that jobs aren’t out there, and miss opportunities,’ says Toynbee. ‘As everyone thinks the same way, there is less competition.’
‘There used to be a lot of seasonality in recruitment,’ says Moore. ‘Now it is pretty constant all year round.’
Baron agrees. She says that this year the jobs market may not be as rosy as it has been in previous years, which means there could be a steadier flow of vacancies.
September: stick around
The beginning of autumn is when most people get itchy feet. Two weeks sitting beside a pool can only lead to dissatisfaction when you are back behind your desk.
However, you should not hand in your notice without giving it some serious consideration, especially if you have not been in your current position for very long. If someone has been six months here and five months there, it can ring warning bells, says Savills’ White.
‘As a rule of thumb, you should stay somewhere for at least one year,’ she adds.
Baron suggests that it is better to stay for two years in one place. ‘If you have been with an employer for less than two years, it can look like you haven’t given them a chance,’ she says.
October: try exporeal
Like MIPIM, held on 11-14 March at the Palais des Festivals in Cannes, the Exporeal trade fair in Munich offers a prime opportunity to meet potential employers. Seventy per cent of people find their next job through networking, says Toynbee.
Unlike with job adverts, which lead to hundreds of applications, making a personal impression means the odds are in your favour when a suitable position arises.
‘It’s about waiting for the time when your particular skills are required,’ says Toynbee.
‘The more people you know, the more knowledge you have, and knowledge is power,’ says Moore. ‘Gone are the days of the old school tie. These are the days of the network.’
November: look abroad
If you are prone to seasonal affective disorder and you cannot face another British winter in which you have to wake up in the dark and leave work in the dark, you might consider a secondment to one of your company’s international offices.
‘We have people all over the place,’ says White of Atisreal.
‘People are more and more interested in doing a two-year stint abroad in New York or Dubai. They then bring a wealth of knowledge of other markets back here.’
December: party time
A new ‘new start’ may be looming in 2009, but the run-up to Christmas is no time to rest on your laurels .
‘Network outside your own office,’ says Toynbee.
‘Go to parties within your industry network, hosted by industry-related organisations [such as Women in Property].’