What Does Being “Ready” Mean To You?

My recent blog post on the job search process resulted in several emails asking the same question about the concept of being “ready” for the next level.  Mainly, how do you know?  Do you need to ask someone?  How do you manage all of the uncertainties of moving on?

Since I believe in the mantra of once is a question, twice is a discussion and three inquiries equals a blog post, I have decided to address this issue based on the volume of questions about this issue.   

The Readiness Factor

What does “ready” really mean?  Ready means you feel professionally comfortable in tackling the duties required at the next-level position. It also means you are looking for enhanced responsibilities in your professional portfolio in all areas—especially supervisory and budgetary oversight.      

Who decides if you are ready?  Only you can truly determine this but your performance appraisals combined with feedback from peers and supervisors can help you see the full picture.  Are you being tapped for progressively responsible duties in your department or division?  This can often be a sign of confidence in your talents and skills.  

Do you need to ask your supervisor? Not necessarily.  But I think it is helpful to ask what they perceive as the biggest challenges for you at the next professional level.   Consult with the people who have worked with you in some sort of professional capacity.  Include mentors, peers and professionals currently at the level you aspire. What area of growth do you still need to consider?  Who will provide you with honest feedback? 

Have you mastered the core competencies of your position? Think about the skills and attributes needed to be successful at the next level.  While positions in higher education may vary a majority of us will need to have strong supervision skills, excellent administrative proficiency, a record of consistent collaboration with colleagues  and the confidence to lead effectively.    

Another concern echoed in the emails about this topic was about project management.  Are you involved in a project that is just getting off the ground and are worried about it getting dropped if you leave the institution?  The reality is that it probably won’t.  If the department is truly committed to it then it will continue to develop.  If it fails, it is not because you left.  The hard truth is that everyone is replaceable but sometimes in higher education we feel like everything will fall to pieces if we don’t take care of it.  Not true. 

I personally made the decision to start searching because I had achieved most of the goals that I set when I started at my current institution.  I enjoy my work but I could also feel that tug of “it’s time to move on.”   I spent this past year constantly challenging myself to think “as if”  I was already at the next level when dealing with certain situations.  Although this is not easy, I have become more comfortable in that frame of thinking.  Are you thinking about decisions from the perspective of the level above you? Think “as if” for the next week–you might be surprised at what you see!

The experiences that have helped to shape my professional philosophy are the  result of my work in this position.  I am now more self-aware and confident about my unique skills and talents and will be more purposeful about the career choices I make in the future.  Readiness is knowing that you have accomplished your goals and feel prepared to add value to a new position.  Because past performance is the best indicator of future success I know that I will be ready for the next step and anything that this role has in store for me.

One final concern about the readiness factor was the difficulty of leaving a staff that you have come to enjoy and care about.  We are a relational field.  But your professional ambitions and needs are also important and good people can be found wherever you go.  I know that my department will hire a (hopefully more) talented new person for my position and that our staff will move forward.  Our field is full of outstanding professionals waiting for the opportunity to shine at the next level!  

What concerns do you have about being ready for the next level? 

Share with me! @annmarieklotz


About annmarieklotz

I write about all things education, personal & professional development and growth. Once is a question, twice is a discussion and three times is a blog post! Born and raised in Detroit Michigan but currently calling the Pacific Northwest home. I work at Oregon State University and belong to a fantastic community of higher ed professionals around the globe! Lover of theater and the arts. Live your best life!
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12 Responses to What Does Being “Ready” Mean To You?

  1. Jessa says:

    Thank you! That answered questions I didn’t know I had!

  2. Nicole says:

    Love the post! Even though I am not currently working in Student Affairs (the job search is moving very slowly), I often find myself trying to apply the thinking to daily situations at work, and would like to think that when I do get back in the field, I will continue to think the same way

    • Thanks Nicole! It isn’t easy at first think in that way but I found that the decisions that were made by folks above me made much more sense when I considered the scope of their role and their priorities.

  3. Great stuff AMK- I enjoy learning from you. Thanks for posting this & being honest about what “ready” might mean.

  4. Ed Cabellon says:

    Great post AMK 🙂 Thanks for sharing your perspective on this, it parallels my own views so it gave me confidence! Keep sharing, you’re one of the best.

  5. Great post! Over the last year I have been putting myself in the position one step above my own. I’ve tried to pursue opportunties outside of my role and never really considered that I had been asking myself “what if”! Now that I’m interviewing it all feels like it’s coming together full circle. Looking forward to seeing what the next couple of months hold.

  6. Jodi says:

    Your post made me think about an article in Fast Company. The idea that we are “generation flux” could very much apply to many of us in higher ed. Thanks for sharing.


  7. Very true! Thanks so much for reading and sharing, Jodi 🙂

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