Career Development for
Creative People

By May Bleeker-Phelan, 2 Feb 2021

Career Navigation

Career development is done throughout one's life. Through a process of addition and subtraction it offers a means of moving towards work that gives you satisfaction and moving away from work that doesn't.

career map embroidery illustration ©May Bleeker-Phelan 2022,

Crafting a rewarding and productive working life requires a certain clarity, insight and creative adaptability. These resources can be developed.

Whether you are looking to make a change, develop a leadership or innovation ability, choose a different career path, or find a new way of doing what you are already doing, career assessment and/or coaching can support your progression.

With the right knowledge and personal tools you can create a life and work path that satisfies your needs and makes you happy.

Career Development - Mapping The Terrain

Whether expanding a creative practice, developing into a new position, or coping with unexpected change, the more you know about the factors that influence your career progress, the more power you have to make good decisions.

Career development researchers have identified 10 resources necessary for a successful career. Being strong in some areas won't make up for not having resources in another. All ten are required for success.

Although all of the resources are important, a good starting point for career development is gaining self-insight and knowledge of the world of work.

Self insight & Human Capital

Your 'human capital' is the knowledge and skills you carry with you when you move from job to job. Besides the job-specific skills you have, there is also job-market knowledge and 'soft' skills that are transferable across different types of work. The more insight you have into these areas the better for you and your career progression:

Values and motivations - the things you want out of life that make you want to do some things and not others. These also influence what types of environments and work cultures you will enjoy and what types will make you miserable.

Interests and aptitudes - abilities and interests that come naturally to you. These may be in various stages of development, or even be latent (i.e. the potential is there, but it is undeveloped)

Personality style and preferences - certain traits, or ingrained habits of thinking and behaving that influence the way you interact with the world.

Transferable skills - such as communication skills, interactional (team) skills, decision-making or problem-solving abilities etc

Strengths - things you naturally do easily and well. Some you may be aware of, others you may not even be conscious of because they come so naturally to you.

Development areas - things that you might find more effortful to do or that are not yet known or explored by you

These 'knowledge and skills' factors influence how you respond to different types of work demands. They determine what you will find easy at work, or where you might trip up.

Even though you may know yourself in an everyday sense, it can be difficult to be objective or to sort the information into what is most relevant. While we are finding our way through the woods, are we even in the right woods?

For effective career development it helps to have ways to map out and prioritise this kind of information. Simplify to clarify.

Insight Into Work & Resources

jigsaw puzzle illustration ©May Bleeker-Phelan 2022,

The challenge with understanding the world of work is that it has so many moving parts. When making sense of this jigsaw it is useful to have a strategic overview.

Your lens must show you what is required to successfully navigate work, where you are already well-equipped and where your gaps lie. This helps you focus your career development efforts so you don't waste time or energy on unnecessary things.

Understanding your career resources and how to access, activate or create them will help you stabilise yourself in a shifting, changing market-place. It will also help you plot a way forward that is in line with what will make you happy.

Your Thinking Partner

Just as you would consult a Financial Adviser or Accountant when dealing with finances, from time to time it can be useful to consult a career development professional for their knowledge and perspectives on the above.

Having more objectively measured information about yourself can increase your insight. An informed, outside perspective can help focus your career development efforts. A creative conversation with a thinking partner can challenge you to find your own inner resources to help you shorten the distance to your goals.

"Few people are as perceptive and intuitive about people as May. Over six years of working with her on assorted projects, I have come to rely on her expertise and judgement. Particularly, her ability to look at the subplot of a situation. Anthropologists refer to something called 'social silence' and it's about looking at what isn't being said (not what is being said). May is superb at doing this with people, their careers and dynamics of teamwork. It is her ability to look beyond the obvious and beyond the explicit that I am continually impressed by. And then, her lexicon to describe what she sees lucidly." - Rich Mayson, Owner/Director: Newport Partners