What constitutes a successful career – an employee’s perspective

Very recently, my MD, Will published a journal article on what he believes constitutes a successful business, which I’d encourage you to read before going any further. As a start-up business owner, he provides a very different outlook to mine on his plans to build a ‘successful’ business. Click the link below..


What constitutes success in business?


I thought it’d be fitting to write an article from my side, as an employee, and give my insights into what I feel determines a ‘successful’ career and my key considerations when taking a role on.

If you haven’t scrolled through my LinkedIn, then a brief summary of my journey is that I’ve undergone a drastic change in career in the last 4 months. I moved from a very competitive sports science industry, into another very competitive recruitment market.

What defines success? The word itself to me is very subjective – when I was younger, I was financially driven and thought that success had a direct correlation with your monthly income.

Big monthly income = Big House, Shiny new car = Success.

Doctors, Dentists, Lawyers, Investment Bankers, Big Business owners – these were the most successful people in my eyes.

After leaving school, I decided to further my studies with AS levels and it was a hugely unsuccessful year  (based on grades). From there, I began my career path in sport as it was something I enjoyed.  I quickly realised that enjoyment was a crucial part of being ‘successful’. This was an industry renowned for long and unsociable hours, typically with a low income, unless you’re fortunate to become an elite sports player, which I’m still holding out for.

Did you know that Olympic athletes (who are the very best of the £66million people in the UK), typically earn £36,000 – £60,000 for podium level athletes, and £23,000 – £40,000 for podium potential athletes, sport dependent of course.

Although this is significantly greater than the UK’s national average annual income, these athletes have trained and dedicated their whole lives to reach this peak level of performance, and realistically will only be at this level for a short number of years. They’re also in a very, very small percentage to even make it to that level. There are a number of other financial benefits such as sponsorships deals that come along with the elite athlete status, but its an interesting figure still.


Anyway, for me, a successful career is one with balance. A balance of money, hours or time to spend away from work to do the things you enjoy, and job satisfaction. This ‘balance’ will change, depending on your priorities in life and I’d recommend thinking about what your current priorities are.


At the moment, for me, a salary that allows me to do the things I enjoy outside of work, pay my bills, and put a little bit away each month to save for the future is enough for me. Personally, I place a greater importance on the other two pillars as long as I’m financially stable – for other people who are looking to save for a mortgage and live more luxurious lifestyles may have a greater focus on earning a higher income. Recruitment is an industry known for being very money driven – ‘they’re just trying to make money out of you’, however, I can genuinely say that is not my motive. Being financially rewarded for doing well at your job is a nice addition, though.


If your job is extremely enjoyable and pays well, but requires an extreme amount of hours, it can deter you from doing the things you enjoy doing outside of work. There are only a limited number of hours in the day.

I’m a bit of a social butterfly (the annoying person in any group chat, regularly trying to force a plan) and really do value spending time with other people, and doing things I enjoy outside of work. Right now, a 70+ hour working week wouldn’t be for me as I wouldn’t be able to find the time on top of working to do the things I love.

Job Satisfaction

What is the purpose of working? For me, it’s about making a difference to somebody, and in some way contributing to other people’s lives. A role in which I’m really contributing doesn’t interest me, as I’d like to look back on my career and ‘achievements’ for me, are the differences I’ve made to others.

This previously came through helping young players maximise their athletic potential, educating them and moulding them into good human beings (a youth coaches job is far greater than just making a player into a professional!).

In my new role comes in the shape of helping candidates find their next dream job (ringing a candidate to tell them they’ve got the job is immensely satisfying!). Adding value to the world in some shape or form is what keeps me ticking.

Fundamentally, you shouldn’t be dreading getting up for work every day, and I place a lot of importance on job satisfaction when selecting my career.

Alongside this, I work with a great bunch of people who I’m fortunate to call friends, so doing something you enjoy in an environment that encourages you to be yourself, I consider myself to be lucky.

A great method of judging how well I get along with someone is to quantify how many Cotswold Cider’s (or curry flavoured gins if you’re Mollie) I could enjoy with them at the Kingham Plough.


If you’re considering taking a new role on, or even wanting to evaluate your current role then a quick task I’d recommend doing is using a scale of 1 – 10 on each (1 being lowest, 10 being best case scenario) for money, hours and job satisfaction. Compare these numbers for your current role, previous roles, or a job you’re considering taking.

For example…

Money – 3

Hours – 8

Job Satisfaction – 10

21 / 30.


So, in summary, a successful career to me is one which I can still have the time to do the things I love outside of work, enjoy working with those around me, feel like I’m contributing to others through the role itself, and finally taking home enough at the end of month to allow me to do the things I love.




Adam Williams

Technical & Engineering Consultant

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