How To Find Your Career Niche & Stick To It

Regardless of how far along you are in your career, it’s likely you’ve wondered if you’re on the right path. Caterpillar’s Jessica Zobac has several tips to help you get the most out your skills and drive professional growth.

Jessica Zobac’s resume reads: insurance sales, hospitality sales, small business ownership, logistics engineer, supply chain planning, and (today) communications consultant. Her experience spans many companies over the years, but for the last seven, Jessica has fully utilized the opportunities and connections within Caterpillar’s global enterprise. Throughout her diverse career experiences, Jessica has developed five tips to help you make the most out of your career and learn a thing or two about yourself along the way.

Tip 1: Be Open to Jobs That Aren’t What You Had in Mind

 Caterpillar is committed to driving quality work through our people, which means there are ample resources and opportunities available to meet motivated peers and grow your skill sets and networks. When Jessica joined Caterpillar in an industry she wasn’t previously experienced in, she leveraged her interpersonal skills and experience in sales to help drive connections with process partners. “Be open to jobs that don't fit the exact box that you're looking for. If I hadn't had the chance to step into my supply chain role, I wouldn't be in my role today."

Tip 2: Bloom Where You Are Planted

If you’re entering a new career field Jessica’s advice is to take your time to truly master the job at hand. “Asking questions and building relationships will help you develop throughout your career.” If the role isn’t a great fit for you, Jessica would argue that there are ways to make the experience valuable regardless. She says, “look for opportunities to create experiences and demonstrate your abilities in your current role for what you want to do in the future.” For Jessica, that meant applying her passions and skills in a volunteer committee, where she was able to demonstrate her skills in strategy, development and execution.

Tip 3: Know What You Bring to the Table- and Who You Want to Sit With

Jessica recommends taking personality and strengths assessments to help you better understand yourself. Once you know what you bring to the table, consider who you want to sit with. “Instead of thinking about a specific job role, which can be paralyzing at times, think about the characteristics and experiences you want to gain. Put yourself at the forefront.” Do informational interviews to learn more about job opportunities, and how they align with your skills, personality and career goals. Importantly, you don’t have to be actively searching for a new job to ask for an informational interview. There is no right or wrong time to ask questions and learn.

Tip 4: Don’t Be Afraid to Say No

For Jessica, having a strong sense of what she wants and does not want in her professional career has helped her navigate available opportunities. At one point in her journey she declined an offer, because she felt it would lead her down a path that didn’t align with her goals. Instead she decided to make a lateral move that was more closely in line with her future plans. “It’s not always going to be an upward and linear path when you are continually learning things along the way.”

Tip 5: Own Your Journey

Jessica says, “Career journeys aren’t one size fits all. There are many ways to reach a goal. Find the one that makes sense to you.” At Caterpillar, career planning is executed in a tangible way, gathering experiences and skills that are mutually beneficial to your own growth and the success of the enterprise.

Creating a career that matters takes dedication, patience and time. Joining a global brand committed to supporting your journey doesn’t hurt either. If you’re ready to build what matters, join our talent community today: https://caterpillarcareers.ttcportals.com/