The Critical Career Skills

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For one to thrive in a career, knowledge, skills, experience, and many other factors are required. A person's career depends on a variety of abilities, including critical thinking, interpersonal communication, networking, teamwork, leadership, professionalism, career management, and a global mentality. While these abilities are learnable, acquiring them all calls for a variety of learning experiences. I have worked to develop these skills as a student pursuing a SOM degree through a combination of academic, extracurricular, and life events. My career skills have specifically benefited greatly from workplace networking and preparation activities, professional networking events, reading scholarly publications and newsletters, professional groups, and attending trade exhibits. While acquiring all these skills may enhance one’s success in career, other factors may influence career path. As a knowledgeable, skilled, and experienced person selling my services to potential employers in a competitive industry, the environment I am operating in is analogous to that one of any other business. Consequently, certain principles in business can be customized to explain the internal and external environment I am operating in. External forces such as globalization, technology, law, economics, politics, and ethics can exert a significant influence on one’s career. I have used PEST analysis of myself to help me uncover the problems and opportunities in my career path. Success in one’s career is largely enhanced by a combination of personal strengths and opportunities. However, failure is largely associated with personal weaknesses and external threats based on NACE and TRAC. To understand my situation, I have performed SWOT analysis of myself to determine the internal strengths and weaknesses that I have and the external opportunities and threats I am facing. I will discuss how each made a difference in my career.

Overview

Professional Networking Activities

Recently, I had an opportunity to attend two formal professional networking events. One was a trade show that took place on October 1-3 in Chicago; IL dubbed WEFTEC 2018 that was organized by the Water and Environment Federation (WEF). It was their 91st Annual Technical Exhibition & Conference for water for various stakeholders involved in the water technology sector. I had attended the tradeshow as an international and domestic sales representative for our company that manufactures ceramic components used in not only drinking water but also wastewater applications. Although the purpose of the event was to showcase our products and develop business connections with our potential customers, I took the opportunity to network with others not just for sales but also for my career. On September 30, 2017, I also had an opportunity to attend ROC Your Global Future Conference, in Geneseo, NY. In the conference, I listened to how various speakers from all over the world narrated their experiences of studying abroad. I also had a chance to share my childhood stories when I experienced culture shock as we came to the US when I was barely six years old. Besides networking with various participants from all over the world, I learned one of the greatest assets to a “global person” is a “global listener.” The key speaker, who has worked in three foreign countries, emphasized that people global mindset need to learn to listen across disciplines as well as cultures, and beyond the boundaries of general assumptions. The conference helped me create networks of potential customers for our company’s products. Additionally, as a person with a global orientation, I got ideas on how to succeed in a multicultural environment.

Scholarly Articles

As domestic markets become saturated with competitors, and as more opportunities open up in the global arena, companies may shift their focus to global markets. Many challenges and opportunities come with expanding businesses beyond the national boundaries. One of them is the challenge of dealing not only with a multicultural workforce but also multicultural customers. Since those who are often in touch with customers are the sales representatives, they are the most affected by the challenge of multicultural operations. Consequently, they are expected to possess all that is necessary to ensure effective communication with the customers. According to Kaynak et al. (2016), adaptive selling and customer orientation are the most critical factors for successful salespeople. This is because adaptive selling and customer orientation help the salespeople to align their sales messages as per the preferences, needs, and expectations of the customer. Adaptive selling first involves understanding the environment in which selling is taking place then followed by altering the behavior in response to the needs, preferences, and expectations of the customer, thereby leading to higher degree of customer orientation. The findings in the investigation of Kaynak et al. (2016) apply to my situation as a salesperson. Often, I have to respond to the preferences, expectations, and needs of the customers who have interest in buying our products. While this is easy for a domestic customer, there are numerous challenges when dealing with a foreign customer even when language is not a problem. What I have learned from the conferences is also relevant in this case. For example, using the ideas I got from the guest speaker in the ROC Your Global Future Conference, in Geneseo, NY I will enhance my communication with the customers by listening to them.

Companies often measure their performance using many parameters, but sales are the most important parameter in a for-profit organization. Without sales, the company is as good as dead. The focus of the management is, therefore, to empower salespeople with all that it enables them to achieve or exceed their targets. One of the strategies employed by selling organizations is continuous training and development of their salespeople. Recently, however, there is an increased focus on sales coaching. This has led to the emergence of professional sales coaching which has been defined as an action-oriented process used to equip people in various ranks of sales with skills, knowledge, and activities that will help them to meet their sales targets (Badrinarayanan, West, and Zank, 2012). For salespeople to sustain their competitiveness in the new market realities, organizations need to seek the services of professional sales coaching services. As a salesperson, the ideas shared by the authors are consistent with the developments in the field. Often, the company sponsor training programs for us. In the future, it will be important to seek professional training services especially for people who are selling to international customers. It will be great to compare what I learn from conferences and also through training. I believe all these will combine to help me become a competent salesperson not just in the domestic market but also internationally. The fact I can speak three languages fluently is a plus for me.

Professional Field Association

The global market requires sales and marketers to acquire special skills that will help them to succeed in the career. In a global context, the issue of cultural diversity demands that they gain additional skills to enable them to communicate with various customers in the world. Even in situations where they are not in direct contact with the customers, they still have to communicate with either their sales representatives or other vendors who are selling the products on behalf of the company. According to Ahmad, Ihtinyar, and Oman (2015), multicultural markets require that marketers gain a skill which they referred to as intercultural communication competence (ICC). While ICC can work for global business-oriented companies, it has also been shown to work in domestic markets such as Malaysia where there id cultural diversity within the country. Cross-cultural understanding of business themes as well as concepts is critical to long-term business survival in a country like the US. As a domestic and international sales representative for our company, ICC is critical to our ability to sell to culturally diverse customer base locally as well as in foreign countries. With a possible future global expansion of our company to many overseas markets, the cultural diversity of our customers would increase. Similarly, the cultural diversity of our employees will also increase. I might also consider career opportunities offered by the multinational companies.As part of the preparation for greater responsibilities and career success in a multicultural environment, I would have to invest a lot in acquiring ICC.

PEST Analysis

Although I may wish to build an excellent career in sales, certain factors beyond my ability may create barriers. These external factors include political, environmental, social, and technological factors.

Political. Political factors depend on the extent to which government influences the economy. It may be not only the local government but also governments of the overseas countries where we have operations. For example, the new tax, and foreign policy reforms introduced by Donald Trump administration may have a great influence on the careers of salespersons. It will lead to reduced sales. Consequently, companies may suspend employing salespersons. Hence it will affect my career. Economic sabotage by Chinese businesses may also affect our business since their counterfeits are very cheaper compared to our products. If they can manage to counterfeit our company’s products, the company may close due to stiff imports from China.

Economic. Economic factors have a great impact on the way our company does business and its ability to make profits. It also affects any other business. Inflation, decline in disposable income, exchange rates, high interests rate, and slow economic growth may lead to reduced purchasing power. Eventually, sales outputs will decline, and prospects of career opportunities diminish.

Social. Social factors include demographic factors such as care attitudes, age distribution, and population growth have a high impact on our business. For example, our products are often used for domestic water and wastewater. An increased health consciousness in domestic and global markets increases the demand for our products. Therefore, it has an impact on enhancing career opportunities.

Technology. Technology can enhance or destroy a business. If a company develops alternative technology to clean and wastewater handling, our company may be forced out of the markets. This will dim the prospects of career progression in my current company. However, if our company develops a novel technology that is better than that of competitors, we might receive a huge demand for our products. Consequently, there will be many opportunities for career growth within the company.

SWOT Analysis

A SWOT analysis can reveal my strengths, weaknesses, and external opportunities and threats to my career.

Strengths: I possess relevant educational qualifications, experience, and multilingual skills. All these will contribute toward my success,

Weaknesses. Little international experience in sales. Despite my little exposure to international markets, I need to keep on acquiring skills that are relevant for international markets since my target is to work for a multinational corporation.

Opportunities. Emerging markets. Emerging markets present opportunities for business expansion, and therefore career growth. There is also an increasing demand for multilingual sales and marketers by local and foreign companies.

Threats. Political uncertainty. Threats of political uncertainty may hamper career growth. The current administration is keen on promoting local companies by closing down foreign factories. This may lead to retaliation that will affect our sales. Hence, it will jeopardize sales careers.

Others

Another learning opportunity came when we met with former senior vice president of Nova Nordisk in California. In the brief encounter, he advised me to invest more in networking and learn to ask questions that help me to build my career. He emphasized that networking and asking questions while still young in career will help me to avoid costly mistakes later since I will be getting information from experienced people in the industry.

Conclusion

When I reflect on what I have learned in class, conferences, reading journals, and other opportunities, I appreciate that building a successful career is not an easy task.it requires proper planning and effort. Networking activities create links that are useful not only as a salesperson but also for sharing information regarding career opportunities. What stands out from my readings, and conferences are the importance of intercultural competence. Success in career depends on individual effort as well as the external environment. Political, economic, social, and technological factors may conspire to diminish career prospects. I plan to attend at least two training per year on sales, two professional conferences, and one international conference. I also plan to read one professional journal per week or a newsletter per month to expand my career skills, improve my weaknesses, and explore other opportunities.

References

Ahmad, F. S., Ihtiyar, A., & Omar, R. (2015). Conceptualizing Intercultural Communication Competency for Multicultural Retail Environment. IWFBE-2015, Istanbul. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Ali_Ihtiyar2/publication/275214650_A_Conceptual_Framework_to_Explain_the_Role_of_Social_Environment_and_Multicultural_Personality_on_Intercultural_Communication_Competency_Inter_Role_Congruence_and_Interaction_Comfort/links/556e9bfb08aefcb861db9e8e.pdf

Badrinarayanan, V., Dixon, A., West, V. L., & Zank, G. M. (2015). Professional sales coaching: an integrative review and research agenda. European Journal of Marketing, 49(7/8), 1087-1113.

Kaynak, E., Kara, A., Chow, C. S., & Laukkanen, T. (2016). Role of adaptive selling and customer orientation on salesperson performance: Evidence from two distinct markets of Europe and Asia. Journal of Transnational Management, 21(2), 62-83.

February 22, 2023
Category:

Life

Subcategory:

Work Experience

Subject area:

Career Knowledge Skills

Number of pages

8

Number of words

2158

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32

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