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Ben Crop


By Ben Graney, Senior Consultant

I was interested to read the findings of a recent survey which stated that women want to achieve career success at an earlier age than men. After finishing the article, I was left pondering the question – “what does career success look like?”

As I mulled over various things – salary levels, responsibilities, achieving the right work-life balance – I initially struggled to reach a definitive conclusion.

One person may consider themselves to be successful when their pay check hits a magic figure. But, what then, if they are getting paid the great salary but they actually dislike their job? Similarly, what if your job brings a real buzz and sense of achievement but you are forever looking at how you can make you take home pay stretch that little bit further to cover all your living costs?

How might our notion of success change as our careers develop – and our lives change?

A higher percentage contributory pension or the opportunity to work a day a week from home which makes juggling childcare arrangements that little bit easier might not rank pretty highly on the success scale for a fresh out of university graduate; whereas for a working parent, this generous allowance towards their future or flexible working arrangement might demonstrate they have reached a level of success in their careers where their employer recognises what is important to them – and is determined to do what they can to retain them.

Not every great job will tick the box for every candidate because everybody wants different things from their role and this will change with each stage of your career. It’s about prioritising – it would be great if we could ‘have it all’ but in reality we need to establish what is most important to us and understand the areas where we are prepared to make a compromise.

There are occasions when an individual thinks that – on paper at least – a particular job is right for them. Through talking to them not just about their skills and experience, but discussing their values, goals and aspirations, their ideal working environment, it will become apparent which factors are essential in a new role and what will be a deal-breaker; it might be that the perfect-on-paper job is no longer suitable.

Such conversations can be real eye-openers, perhaps revealing that what once commanded a high position on the wish-list, has now been surpassed by something else.

For me, the most important thing for everyone – whether you are an employer or employee, recruiting or job hunting – is to fully understand what motivates each individual and establish what their career goals are; essentially, what does success look like to them.

Sharp Consultancy specialises in the recruitment of finance and accountancy professionals.  With offices in Leeds, Sheffield, Doncaster and Manchester our highly experienced team of consultants recruit for temporary, interim and permanent roles across the full spectrum of positions throughout Yorkshire and the North West.