Life at Cleo

How to smash your next career move đź’™

Thinking about career progression can be a daunting prospect, especially when you’re busy in your current job. So many actions to take, and that’s once you’ve actually figured out where you wanna be. It’s easy to get lost in high-input tasks that have little reward.

Picture of Ria Jesrani, a senior user researcher at Cleo

In a recent International Women’s Day event we sponsored with Triangirls and Coding Black Females, Cleo Senior User Researcher, Ria Jesrani, hosted a simple yet stellar workshop on how to take the small steps that can have the biggest impact in your career. Grab your notebook, or make a copy of this handy worksheet, and let’s get started.

1| Goals

Complete this sentence: In six months, I will have…

We know - even this is scary. But, if the answer is I will have a clue what I want to do, great! You might also want to develop a skill, build your network or change jobs. Don’t overthink it, go with whatever feels right.

Ask why

Why do you want to have achieved that? What’s driving that desire? Try to frame this in a positive way:

❌ I’m not a good presenter

âś… I want to be a great presenter

Ask why again

This will identify your root driver. If your original goal isn’t met by the answer to your second why, you should revisit your original goal. Here’s Ria’s personal example:

Goal: I want to get into user research

Why? I want to spend more time in interviews

Why again? I want more interaction with other people

For those design research nerds, Ria is using the double diamond approach here to ensure that you’re focusing on the right thing before running with solutions.

Image that has a diagram for how to design things right

2| Blockers

What’s stopping you from achieving that goal right now? List them out. They might be look like this:

  • I’m worried they’ll say no
  • My efforts aren’t recognised
  • I don’t have enough experience for it
  • They said no and I don’t know why
  • I don’t know enough people in that space

Which of these do you have control over right now? If there’s anything here that you don’t have control over, and can’t fix quickly, forget about them for now. You of course have the ability to move mountains if you put your mind to it, but when you’re getting started then it’s usually easier to start small, so that’s why we’re only focusing on blockers that we can control for now.

Now, what’s the biggest blocker? Or the one you want to tackle first? Highlight that. Now, we’re getting somewhere.

3| Action

Here’s the juicy bit! List out some small and easy actions that you could take if that blocker wasn’t holding you back. Here’s Ria’s real life blocker and some actions to get the ball rolling:


They said no and I don’t know why


  • Ask designers in the company for feedback on my CV
  • Contact recruiters
  • Ask for feedback from rejections
  • Be honest with my manager about career goals
  • Ask mutual contacts to introduce me to researchers on LinkedIn
  • Practice interviews with friends
  • Be picky in job applications - quality over quantity
  • Make a portfolio
  • Suggest running research for designers
  • Offer pro-bono work to small businesses

Finally, highlight two of the smallest actions, the ones that you could easily start doing tomorrow. For Ria, these were:

  • Practice interviews with friends
  • Contact recruiters

This was the first step to getting Ria on the path of becoming a User Researcher, and damn are we glad that she did! We hope this framework will break down what can be a scary process and get you on your right path!

Check out career opportunities with Cleo.

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