Career Capital (Part 1) – essential things to do for your career.

John Lawson is Principal Consultant and Director of Lawson Williams Consulting Group Ltd.


After a long career in recruitment and working with a wide range of people, I now see an increased challenge in sustaining a career in the New Zealand job market.

Never before has it been more critical that we all think about and enable new opportunities that will lead to a fulfilling work life and importantly, allow us to exit our career on our terms, doing what we want not just what we can get.

As a small country, we strive to operate in an ever-developing global landscape. Increasingly, we are seeing and feeling the influence of decisions made by larger parent organisations, and more often these are being made from outside New Zealand.

All of this leads to an increasingly dynamic work and job market. On top of this, we are rapidly beginning to see and understand the power of Generative AI and its potential to change the future of our work.

No longer can our careers be reactive, we must proactively think about and work on the things that will enable us to achieve and maintain a competitive edge in the workforce.

"I create my future now" building career capital and improving career sustainability.

The concept of Career Capital has emerged as a cornerstone for achieving this. Sustaining your career is not about complacency but about constantly nurturing your skills, connections, and mindset.

Understanding Career Capital

At its core, Career Capital is the portfolio of resources professionals build over the course of their careers. This portfolio encompasses three primary components:

  1. Social Capital: The network of relationships and contacts that provide insights, opportunities, and support.
  2. Human Capital: The skills, knowledge, and expertise that increase your value in the job market.
  3. Psychological Capital: Personal attributes such as resilience, optimism, and self-efficacy enable individuals to navigate career challenges effectively.

Expand your Social Capital

Networking Strategically

Building a robust professional network is about more than just collecting contacts; it’s about forging meaningful relationships. Attend industry conferences, join professional associations, and participate in online forums relevant to your field. Remember, networking is a two-way street—focus on how you can add value to your connections.

To enhance your strategic networking efforts, focus on genuinely enriching your connections by:

1. Stay in Touch Regularly: Consistently reach out to your network with updates, check-ins, and relevant news to keep the relationship warm and reciprocal.
2. Share Valuable Content: Distribute insightful articles, research findings, and relevant news that can benefit your connections, helping them stay informed or solve specific problems.
3. Introduce Them to Others: Act as a connector by introducing your contacts to each other when you see mutual benefits, thereby expanding their network and opportunities.
4. Give Feedback and Advice: Offer constructive feedback and share your expertise when appropriate, to support your connections’ personal or professional growth.
5. Ask for Their Input: Involve your network in your projects or decisions by asking for their opinions or advice, showing you value their expertise and perspective.

Leveraging Mentors and Sponsors

Mentors provide guidance, feedback, and support, helping you navigate your career path. Sponsors, on the other hand, are advocates in positions of influence who can open doors to opportunities. Both roles are crucial in career development. Seek out individuals whose careers inspire you and whose values align with your own.

So, what is the level of your Social Capital?