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Stretch Assignments

20 May 2019

Hiring Managers value hearing stories about times when you have stretched out of the normal confines of your role.  When they hear stories that you have gone above and beyond they can more easily imagine you will do the same for them.

One way to have these stories is to capture them as they occur, so you remember them.  The fact is most of us naturally play on the edges of our statements of duties and feel most engaged in our work when we are providing additional value. Keeping a record of when you do this is just good career sense.

It is also valuable to ask for stretch assignments, and persistently ask for them again and again.  Prior to asking list the core skills you will bring and the benefits to be gained for both yourself and your team through your participation.

Stretch assignments are often not too hard to find:

Join committees and advisory/reference groups
Be the liaison with cross functional teams
Proactively look for and solve problems before you are asked
Say yes to opportunities even if you don’t feel ready yet
Seek a mentor and ask them to challenge you

In The CEO Next Door Elanor Botelho and Kim Powell report on a number of career catapults their research has shown to be particularly beneficial for accelerating career success if you are looking to move into senior leadership – two of them highlight the importance of taking on a stretch:

A big leap – where you take on work that is larger than you have done before or is in an area unfamiliar to you.
A big mess – where you take on work others are unwilling to tackle.

Often if you have been in a role for a while it can start to feel routine and lacking in challenge.  Looking for the added value you can give at this stage is a way to stay engaged.

As always wishing you a flourishing career.




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