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Don’t waste your career by being busy working.

Written by Erin Donelly
28/11/19 - 12:30

Don’t waste your career by being busy working. A very clickbait-y title but it was something that Richard Paterson said last night that resonated with me.

Zonal hosted the last Ministry of Test Edinburgh meet-up of the year (and of the decade), and we had Ministry of Test Glasgow organiser Richard in to chat about how to develop your personal skillset, accompanied by lots of different Bruce Lee quotes!

His chat was great, and applicable to pretty much every career/area of life, so I thought I would round it up, and provide some #ThursdayThoughts reading:

1. Be useful, to yourself and to your team.

Being a specialist is all good and well, but how can you be more useful to yourself and to your team? Can you learn other skills that would allow you to do better, understand the environment more, that would allow you to help out and do someone else’s job for just a day?

Doing this widens your skillset and will make you invaluable. No-one likes to talk about redundancy and company issues, but if you can do more than just your speciality, you are more likely to be safe.

2. Don’t let your job title define you.

Fairly similar to the above, but worth repeating.

You don’t have to have a specific set of skills just because your job title states it. Well, you should, but you should also have more than that. Don’t let that stop you from developing.

On that note, number three…

3. Don’t stop developing.

Choose things that develop your skills, and don’t ever stop. It’s your career, so decide on what will develop your skillset and be useful to you, not what you think you should, or what people before you have done.

Don’t plateau. Don’t waste your career by being busy just working on the same things. It’s easy to say you need a break, or to just chill for a month, but what if you turn around and it’s three years on, you haven’t done anything new, and a load of enthusiastic rookies are on the scene and moving past you.

4. Set goals, take control and create your own opportunities.

Setting goals is hard but necessary. They should be a challenge, maybe unattainable, but a means to an end. You need to be the one to set those goals and you need to be the one focused on achieving those goals. If you lose that focus, no-one is going to get it back for you.

Create opportunities. Far easier said than done. Try to do so at work, but if that’s not the case, attend things like Ministry of Test, become a hobbyist programmer in your own time or sign up to do the extra stuff that no-one else wants to do.


Ultimately, it’s up to you.


For more great talks, sign up to some of the Ministry of Testing events (Glasgow and Edinburgh) as there’s some pretty cool stuff coming in 2020.

As usual, if I, or any of my colleagues can helping you in finding a new position (creating those opportunities!), or help you find the right candidate, please get in touch at erin.donnelly@cathcartassociates.com or 0131 510 1500.