When I joined the fire service the extent of my ambition to become a Sub-Officer (Watch Manager). I wanted to be in the front of the fire appliance, commanding incidents.
That is the only time I have planned more than one step ahead. Since then, I have always considered one promotion at a time, ensuring I was competent in a role I was currently in before considering the next.
That strategy suited me, but may not suit everyone. I know people who set out to become Chief very early in their career.
Neither approach is right or wrong – it’s whatever is best for you that’s important.
I knew that every job advertised would not be suitable for me; therefore a decision had to be made. Could I see myself being happy in that job for the rest of my career if other opportunities didn’t arise?
Asking such questions meant there were occasions when I decided not to apply. Again this is an individual decision and there is no right or wrong answer.
I have always adopted a positive attitude, whereby if I had submitted an application that demonstrated how I met the person specification, then I would anticipate being shortlisted.
Adopting this attitude meant no time was wasted, with studying starting immediately.
Throughout my career I have strived to study continuously. This has served to both keep my knowledge levels high and to maintain the practice of studying. Once shortlisting is confirmed, I would increase my preparation.
I have always adopted a structured approach into the areas to be covered and the amount of time devoted to study each day. Deciding on what to study involves a combination of role specific skills and local/national topical issues.
Also, I would research what the process involved, so that I could be fully prepared.
If there was a need to deliver a presentation then I would plan a structure and practice delivering both to myself and to an audience. Once the study schedule was established I would diligently apply myself to it.
When the assessment day arrived (despite sometimes not sleeping well!) I would feel confident because I would know I was well prepared.
As a final tip, if possible, I always find that a short run before the event helps to clear my mind and help me focus on the task ahead. Everyone will have their own activity to achieve this, it just so happens that running is mine!