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How to Identify Opportunities in Your Workplace

Updated: May 14, 2023

“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” - Alexander Graham Bell

This quote always resonates with me because it emphasizes the fact that humans tend to focus on the past far too long than they should and regret the choices they made when in reality there is plenty of happiness that awaits if only they focus on the present.

Whenever I have a conversation with women working in the corporate sector, it becomes apparent that they have so many misconceptions about access to opportunities. Some feel the nature of their job prevents them from grabbing new opportunities, some do not even know what an opportunity looks like, while some others feel men are presented with better opportunities as compared to women.

Image shows an open door with opportunities on the other side to emphasize how to identify opportunities at work.

In this article, we are going to break all your misconceptions and teach you how to identify and grab the next opportunity that comes your way.

Misconception #1: First impression is the last impression.

People will always judge you based on the first meeting, this is a fact. However, it does not mean that the first impression you made will remain engraved in the person's memory forever. You have absolute control over how people perceive you in the future. So, if you made a bad first impression, try and recover from it. The key is to learn from the mistakes you have made and improve.

If you sent an email to the wrong person, apologize and correct your mistake. If you feel you are improving, ask your boss for feedback to confirm how he is evaluating your progress. Keep your boss updated about your progress on a project, share if you received great client feedback as a result of your efforts. It is your job to build the image that you want to build for yourself in other people's mind. Once you've established that, opportunities will follow.

Misconception #2: Opportunities are granted to only a select few employees who are favoured by the boss.

This ties in directly with the first misconception we talked about, how people perceive you. Usually, the people who created an incredible first impression receive the best opportunities in the beginning. But do not be disappointed, it is what comes afterwards that you should keep an eye on.

Let's say, two of your co-workers were handed the opportunity to work with the top clients because your boss deemed them as high potential candidates. Now dealing with clients is not an easy job, it demands great discipline, expertise and knowledge about the project or product, and making sure client demands are met in line with the company demands.

While your co-workers might be able to handle the clients, it does not hurt to contribute in meetings about further improvements to the processes. Here lies your opportunity, share an idea in a meeting that you feel can improve client relationship, propose solutions that make your clients' life easier. As your idea proves itself useful and effective, your boss starts to notice your potential. Remember, your work speaks for itself.

Misconception #3: No matter how hard I try it does not work.

Hard work always pays off, simple yet true. If you have been working hard to make your work visible with no progress and success then it is time you change your approach. Go into the 'Observation Mode' as mentioned in one of our articles The Power of Observation.

Are you adding the right people in the emails you are sending? Are you sharing your work progress with the right project manager? Are you aware of who is incharge of making the big decisions?

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” - Henry Ford

Redirect all your hard work and efforts to the right people and make sure that you are the one receiving credit for the work that you are doing.

Misconception #4: Following the same career path as your other successful co-workers.

There is nothing more detrimental to your career than following in the footsteps of your colleagues without understanding your own vision. Jot down your personal success statement if you do not have one.

Define what opportunity looks like for you. Is it to participate in a meeting with a client? Is it to give a presentation in front of the board of directors? Is it to successfully deliver the projects assigned to you? Is it to sponsor someone you are mentoring for a promotion?

It is of paramount importance to understand and know what opportunity looks like for you. If you are not aware of that then you will always resent your co-workers getting opportunities that they deserve because they have paved a way forward for their career to progress.

What your co-workers are aspiring to achieve may be very different from what your aspirations are. This is the key to identifying the right opportunities, you may be missing out on a lot by focusing on what your colleagues are doing instead of keeping an eye out for opportunities that align with your own career goals.

Misconception #5: Doing everything your boss says without question.

Your bosses are definitely right most of the times. They are in a position of authority because of their abilities and talent. However, it does not mean that you cannot share ideas with them.

Everyone has a different set of experience, some are good at dealing with clients, others are good at managing people; some have experience with working on large portfolio projects, others have expertise and insights about a certain industry.

Make sure you sell what you are good at.

Do not restrict yourself and agree with an idea where you clearly see that improvements can be made. Always have your voice heard, if you were not able to share your thoughts in the meeting, connect with your boss afterwards or send him an email.

These are all opportunities that are under our nose and waiting to be explored.

So, what are you waiting for? Keep your eyes peeled and your ears open when your boss hints at an upcoming opportunity.

- The Other Working Woman

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