Have a career plan!

I was recently very pleased to be invited to speak at the ICSC European Retail Property School in Frankfurt, addressing a group of young delegates who were largely at the early stages of their careers.


We spend a huge amount of time working carefully with candidates to help them take control of the direction of their careers; often long before they eventually decide to move jobs. It may surprise some of you to learn that, when we ask some of these individuals direct questions, it’s not unusual for us to find that they are uncertain how their career to date has evolved and they are even less clear about where they are actually trying to take their careers! They have no career plan. In the worst of cases, some individuals have reached a period of unhappiness and are struggling to see how to break out of it.

My experience in these situations is that the mistake is often made early on in a professional’s career. It can be a case that the individual simply doesn’t understand the many and varied options available to them within the property arena. I would include my own career direction in this statement. I rather “stumbled” into property when choosing my degree course at 18 years of age. Once I graduated and took up my first role within a property company, I had no real idea where it would take me. My University hadn’t really prepared me for the career options once I left their education. I also didn’t have anyone to guide me. I wonder how many young property professionals have faced a similar challenge even now. Mistakes made at this stage can prove very difficult to correct later in a person’s career.

After graduation, I then feel that there is then an onus on employers to be fair and fully transparent to new employees. They should be open about the career directions available to the individual within their companies. It’s regrettable to find that, sometimes, this information isn’t quite as clear. Young, impressionable individuals are generally relieved to be employed, but surely they have to be given all the detail of not just the position they are to take, but where it could take them? As our market continues to grow again and companies feel under increasing pressure to recruit, are we in danger of seeing recruitment corners being cut?

As a business, we have sought to address some of these concerns through our involvement and co-sponsorship of the ICSC Next Generation platform. This gives us the opportunity to meet and speak with younger individuals to offer them career guidance. We can provide guidance to ensure they do, in fact, have a career plan, set out in stages, to ensure they know the direction they are headed and, crucially, why.

My advice to professionals in our market is to make sure you have a well-structured and clear career plan. Without it, you may never maximize your talents and fulfil your potential. This may mean that, if its financial reward you seek, you might never achieve it. A more depressing thought is you may end up doing a job that simply doesn’t make you happy!

To employers, I would highlight how important it is to set out clearly a career path for your employees. Once they are on that path, be sure to hold regular formal appraisals to be sure both sides are happy with progression. If you do not, you run a real risk of losing talent that, if managed properly, might well have been very content staying with you!


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