It’s time to look back at the year behind us and think about what we’ve learned that can help us manage our careers even more effectively in 2018. Below, I’ve highlighted seven sources of career and professional development insights from 2017 that I found to be particularly relevant for investment professionals.
Wisdom of the Crowd
For a bit of fun, we asked delegates at the 70th CFA Institute Annual Conference in May to share their best career advice. We ended the conference with over 100 stickers on our advice wall. The most common themes were:
- Never stop learning.
- Choose a passion and just keep doing that.
- Never give up and never settle.
- Know thyself and to thine own self be true.
- Network! Network! Network!
- Listen. Listen some more. Then talk.
- Take risks, particularly early in your career. You’ll never know if you don’t try.
- Stay open to unexpected opportunities.
- Be humble, professional, ethical, and prudent.
And then there were exceptionally practical tips like this:
— CFA Career Services (@CFAcareers) May 22, 2017
One bonus from the conference: Carla Harris’s presentation, “Tools for Maximizing Your Career Success.” Harris is a managing director at Morgan Stanley and we’ve featured other of her “pearls” on Enterprising Investor over the years. I recommend viewing this presentation with two objectives in mind: absorbing Harris’s insights and studying her dynamic presentation style.
Professional Life and Skills
Few would disagree that good listening is fundamental to all other communication and persuasion efforts and so is critical for most investment professionals. The problem is that good listening is difficult. We process the information we hear faster than that information can be spoken. This leaves time for our minds to wander or to formulate a rebuttal to what we’re hearing when we should be paying close attention. While there isn’t a shortcut that makes good listening easy, this article has tips for improving our listening skills. Among other pointers, the author recommends being conscious of how much we talk versus how much we listen as a way to remind ourselves to communicate with a curious mind and a determination to learn.
Our reputations are one of our more important professional assets. They take a long time to build but almost no time to destroy. In a story for CFA Institute Magazine, Jeff Stith explains that many CFA Institute members and candidates come to the attention of the CFA Institute Professional Conduct team because they made poor decisions in unfamiliar or unusual circumstances. Stith offers some suggestions on how to navigate such situations.
Providing feedback can sometimes be uncomfortable for leaders and managers. But doing it constructively without sacrificing the trust of team members is an important part of leadership. This piece describes the DESC model for structuring difficult feedback and offers some advice on how to deliver it effectively. It reinforces the notion that maintaining trust is in part a function of being clear and specific, dealing in facts not opinions, and addressing issues promptly and succinctly.
Job Search Skills and Strategies
The job market for investment professionals is constantly shifting. Obviously, technology will continue to have a significant effect. This article explains some of the ramifications that technology may have and discusses other factors that will influence where jobs will be lost and found. Professionals should stay informed about job market trends even when they don’t anticipate a near-term change in their own circumstances. For one thing, circumstances often change faster than expected. For another, when the time comes to make a move, we don’t want to be playing catch-up in order to identify and position ourselves for the ideal opportunity.
Sometimes we change jobs because of a specific opportunity. Most of the time, however, we develop a planned and organized search. In this webinar, Rob Hellmann addresses how to target and prioritize potential positions and make and execute a personal marketing plan. By strategically targeting opportunities and working through a recommended process to prioritize them, we become more effective and efficient in networking, communicating, and positioning ourselves.
Preparation is the key to a successful job interview. Often through networking, research, and considering our past experiences, we can anticipate what an interviewer will ask. With tools like the STAR model and the formulas Victoria McLean, founder of City CV, discusses in this webinar, we can prepare our answers in advance. The STAR model is a story structure that can help us answer most behavioral-based questions. McLean says that by conveying the situation, task, action, and results of the scenario, in that order, with the emphasis on the action we take, we can respond to any “Tell me a time when . . . ” question. McLean also offers suggestions on how to answer the greatest strength and weakness question.
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All posts are the opinion of the author. As such, they should not be construed as investment advice, nor do the opinions expressed necessarily reflect the views of CFA Institute or the author’s employer.